MADISON — The widening Zuckerbucks election scandal in Wisconsin includes many of the same alarming elements in Pennsylvania, a fellow battleground state that, like Wisconsin, proved pivotal in Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
Philadelphia news publication Broad & Liberty reports on an email introducing a Delaware County councilwoman to the idea of election grants from a nonprofit. The email also copied a political strategist whose online bio boasts that he led “the soft-side effort to win the swing state [Pennsylvania] in 2020” for Democrats and their causes.
“The revelation is likely the first direct link in Pennsylvania between grants from the Chicago-based Center for Tech and Civic Life for the 2020 election and a source with an open partisan affiliation for Democrats,” reported Todd Shepherd on Monday.
The email thread, according to the publication, began on July 24, 2020 when someone named Gwen Camp emailed Delaware County Councilwoman Christine Reuther. Although requests for comment to Camp were not returned, she is most likely a former Obama administration FEMA staffer as well as a former staffer for U..S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania), according to a LinkedIn bio.
Also cc’d on the email was Kevin Mack, whose email address identified him as employed with Deliver Strategies, Shepherd reported.
“Kevin Mack is a veteran political, communications and direct mail strategist,” his bio on the Deliver Strategies website says. “Mack most recently served as Lead Strategist for The Voter Project in Pennsylvania which was instrumental in signing up over 3.2 million people to vote by mail and leading the soft-side effort to win the swing state in 2020. Prior to that, Mack ran the Need to Impeach Campaign which built a grassroots movement of over 8.4 million Americans across all 50 states.”
In case you’re scoring along at home, Need to Impeach “started as an online petition grew into a national movement of passionate, energetic advocates committed to removing Donald Trump from office.”
Deliver Strategies boasts that it has worked on the campaigns of Pennsylvania Dem Gov. Tom Wolf and President Barack Obama, among others.
“Christine and Marc, I know you’ve both been hearing about the other’s operations but wanted to get everyone together to talk about the potential for an official partnership,” Camp, the former Obama administration official, wrote as she introduced Councilwoman Reuther to Marc Solomon, a longtime political strategist.
“Marc, I would love to talk to you about the journey we have been on with our election department in Delco, what we have to do, even if I have to steal funds from other County departments, and what I would like to do if I can find the money,” Reuther replied.
A staffer for the Pennsylvania governor also was included on the thread, according to Broad & Liberty.
“I was introduced to CTCL in the context of facilitating statutorily mandated vote by mail processes that were not being funded by the Republican controlled legislature that imposed them or by the prior Council which had failed to budget for them,” Reuther told the publication. “The need was acute last summer because we had already learned in the primary what kind of vote by mail turn out we could expect given the pandemic.” She added that she was “half-joking” about her state regarding stealing funds from other county departments.
Emails obtained by Wisconsin Spotlight show similar Democratic Party connections, despite the insistence from CTCL’s defenders that the liberal voter activist group, its network of partners and the local elections officials they worked with conducted themselves in a non-partisan way.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) and operatives for then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign offered advice to Green Mayor Eric Genrich’s office, according to Wisconsin Spotlight’s investigation.
“We’re checking in regarding the guidance that went live on the City’s website, we think this morning, that the drop box at City Hall will be open until 8pm tomorrow,” Kronig wrote to Vanessa Chavez, Green Bay city attorney, Celestine Jeffreys, the Democrat mayor’s chief of staff, and Amaad Rivera, Green Bay community liaison.
Copied on the email are Devin Remiker, a Biden campaign staffer and DPW’s former senior Elections Director, Daniel Melfi, Wisconsin State Director of Joe Biden for President, Scott Spector, Wisconsin senior adviser for the Biden campaign, and Tanya Bjork, a veteran operative for Team Biden and former President Barack Obama.
In the email, Kronig wrote that the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s “clear guidance” on state election law requires ballots to physically be at Central Count locations by 8 p.m. to be counted. The city had advised voters that absentee ballots had to be in the drop boxes by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
The state Democrats and Biden campaign staffers urged the city to strictly follow WEC’s guidance on the point.
“We understand that there is some ambiguity in the statute on this point and there is an argument to be made that being in custody of the city clerk suffices. However, even if the city’s interpretation is entirely correct, we think that it is too big a risk to take,” Kronig wrote. “There are still thousands of unreturned ballots in Green Bay, and risking that some portion of those ballots might not be counted over an arguable legal interpretation just isn’t worth it.”
In other words, think of all those Biden votes the city might be missing. In a close election in battleground Wisconsin, the partisan operatives didn’t want to take any chances.
CTCL, fueled by $350 million in donations from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pumped more than $8 million into Wisconsin’s five largest cities to help administer “safe, inclusive, and secure” elections. The grant funding to Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine, all Democratic strongholds, was principally targeted for November’s presidential election.
What emails from Green Bay, Milwaukee and the other “Wisconsin 5” cities show is a coordinated effort between CTCL and its network of liberal activist partners to embed themselves in local elections offices through the presidential election.
Emails show CTCL-partner groups and election officials sharing raw voter data and discussing how best to maximize turnout of traditionally Democratic voters in “areas with predominantly minorities.” CTCL partners were literally given the keys to absentee ballots, with one long-time Democratic operative offering to “cure” ballots. The complaints allege CTCL, its partners and city officials usurped authority solely granted to local and state elections officials under state law and the U.S. Constitution.
CTCL approved nearly $22 million in grants to 21 Pennsylvania counties, according to Broad & Liberty. The vast majority of the grant funding went to blue counties — just like in Wisconsin.