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The Zuckerbucks cabal

By Heather Smith, MacIver Institute

Wisconsin Spotlight | Sept. 9, 2022

We’re rapidly approaching another November election and, as the state continues to grapple with election integrity problems exposed in the 2020 cycle, it’s worth reviewing the unreported and underreported aspects of how the deeply partisan Zuckerbucks takeover of election administration in our largest population centers caused – and exposed – shortcomings in the transparency and security of our elections.

How the mainstream media reported it:

This merry band of incredibly kind, non-partisan, charitable do-gooders sort of all independently were really worried about a mask shortage for poll workers and voters, and how any municipality could ever possibly afford prohibitively expensive pieces of plexiglass. And, honestly, theses guys never had a thought about partisan politics even once in their lives. They are just totally, totally good souls. So they stumbled upon each other and went out and found this nice man from Facebook who would give them a few bucks so they could invest in the safety of Wisconsinites as they exercised their right to vote.

Because really, who doesn’t love Wisconsin?

How it really went down:

Extreme partisans, trained and seasoned campaign strategists, election clerks who had to be sued to follow their own state’s laws, backed by groups whose stated goals were to decrease election security and increase turnout of Democrat voting blocks, came into Wisconsin. The Badger State consistently ranks in the top couple of states for highest voter turnout. These partisans dumped millions of dollars into Wisconsin’s largeest cities – as much as $53 per voter in some places –  in a pay-to-play scheme requiring largely willing partisan local election officials to use their cash and their data expertise in very specific contractually guaranteed ways to target certain voters in a first-in-Wisconsin, government-executed, Get-Out-The-Democrat-Vote campaign exercise.

Because really, if you don’t boost Democrat margins in your biggest population centers, how are you going to deliver a Democrat win?

The Rest of the Story

The money poured in to five key vote-rich cities in a high-turnout, high-stakes, highly purple state. Cities that almost exclusively had highly partisan Democrat local officials who were willing to flout state election laws and cede the responsibilities of their office to more skilled campaign strategists. The cities were able to “deliver just the margin needed”, as one such admiring former Cook County, Ill. (bastion of election skullduggery) election staff praised Milwaukee’s clerk for doing.

Opportunistic Takeover of Wisconsin’s Election Administration

What they pulled off is part of a long-range, coordinated effort, and these groups and their funders are not done meddling in elections to achieve partisan goals.

The groups were working toward the shared goals of increasing mail-in voting, decreasing election security, and leveraging data – using the power of big tech to turn data points into Democrat votes well before the 2020 cycle.

Hundreds of millions of Zuckerbucks simply enabled them to implement their agenda at the speed of light on a grand scale by turning local election officials into campaign operatives using data and dollars to turn out select demographic groups.

Two years ago this week, a highly organized, well-funded, interconnected coalition of Democratic campaign strategists and partisan activists were in the process of taking over election administration in Wisconsin’s largest cities.  Under the pretense of helping underfunded local election offices afford personal protection equipment and other measures to ensure voters and poll workers were able to vote “safely,” money poured into Wisconsin. There were strings attached.

The groups had innocuous-sounding names; The National Vote at Home Institute, The Center for Tech and Civic Life, and The Elections Group.  Their funding, $328 million, came from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s foundation.

While the media, mainstream and otherwise, occasionally noted that the staff and founders of these groups “leaned left” or had “liberal ties”, there was no attempt to do a real dive into the background and expertise of these partisan operatives or their goals.

These strategists executed an audacious takeover of the largest election offices across the state, stunning in its scope and complexity, guaranteeing the compliance of elections officials with contracts requiring the election would be conducted according to their rules.

This was not a group of charitable-minded do-gooders who just wanted to make sure voters and poll workers had masks; the intensely partisan operatives, every one of them Democrat-only campaign financiers, included:

Hillary Hall

It’s unlikely readers know about Hillary Hall’s role in obstruction of election integrity in her home state or in Wisconsin, because the mainstream media never bothered to cover it.

A former Boulder County election clerk and Democrat Party chair who was sued twice, in 2012 and 2014, for refusing to comply with Colorado election transparency law and denying observers reasonable access to view the counting of mail-in ballots. The Libertarian who sued Hall in 2012 for these violations said she was using her position as election administrator to “tilt the playing field” toward her party, giving them an advantage in voting

The 2014 case against Hall said she stood apart from all other clerks in the state in refusing to give poll watchers access to observe, as well as setting up a system where no election judge or observer is allowed to witness the handling of overseas and military votes, making it impossible to tell whether they have been properly counted.

Not surprising then that Hall’s intervention and advice in Milwaukee was also a site where observers say that, like the voters in Colorado during Hall’s tenure, they also were kept from observing the process. Hall was so intimately involved in the Milwaukee election administration that she reviewed request for proposals put out by city government. She’d begun to work with the Milwaukee clerk before the dollars arrived, steering them toward drop box and absentee ballot automation vendors. When the money began to flow, Hall placed staff on the ground in Wisconsin to make sure their rules were followed.

Amaad Rivera-Wagner

Similarly, the mainstream media never spent a moment talking about how a rank partisan from Massachusetts, the kind of hyper-liberal candidate who shows up to rev up the crowd at Socialist rallies, waltzed in to Green Bay’s city hall two months before election day and took over key elements of election administration there, and acted to intimidate local election observers.

An uber-liberal Massachusetts Democrat activist, delegate to the Democrat National Convention, state senate candidate repeatedly fined for ignoring campaign finance report requirements, and anti-Trump organizer, Rivera-Wagner was placed in a Green Bay city government position two months before the election.

From his position, Rivera-Wagner provided false credentials to outside operatives, blocked poll workers from talking to the elected clerk, directed ED logistics, and called the police to silence election observers who expressed concern with Election Day operations, in a clear act of intimidation.

This out-of-state, hyper-partisan activist with just weeks of tenure with the city was the last person to leave central count on election night. And he was nicely rewarded for his work when Democrat Mayor Eric Genrich appointed him chief of staff.

Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein

There are a few more mentions of Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, simply because he was so aggressive and so omni-present, and so arrogant that he didn’t care about the paper trail he left proving his improper, illegal involvement in Wisconsin’s elections. But even though it took nearly no effort on their part to read the paper trail, the mainstream media gave short-shrift to even Spitzer-Rubenstein.


This Democratic Party operative was a former Obama campaign staffer and BLM supporter from New York. He controlled just about every aspect of Green Bay election administration, from the redesign of absentee voting to sign placement to ballot tracking system to possession of the keys to the ballot storage location. He was the sole authority over access to the “secure” ballot location.

He prepared voter instructions, reviewed RFP submissions, managed the internet security arrangements for central count, created the training manual for poll workers, designed staffing levels for central count and the physical layout of the room. And Spitzer-Reubenstein was given daily access to the poll list updates, something outside groups must pay for.

We covered Spitzer-Rubenstein’s unprecedented access and control over election administration here and WECs knowledge of his interference here.

Tiana Epps-Johnson and Whitney Mays

These two are alums of the hyper-partisan progressive campaign operative training group the New Organizing Institute (NOI) who founded Chicago-based Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) and developed contracts binding Wisconsin election officials to implement CTCL’s Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) strategy. The contracts were equal parts CYA for the locals (‘oh golly we didn’t have a choice, we had to engage in campaign activity targeting Democrat voters or they’d take away our mask money and everyone would probably die’) and a big stick to bludgeon any potentially recalcitrant local government.

For years leading into the 2020 cycle, Obama darling and Fellow Epps-Johnson and Mays hosted Ballot Data Convening events partnering with Democracy Fund, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, the Princeton Gerrymandering Project (recently exposed for faking redistricting data to benefit Democrats), the League of Women Voters, and We Vote (which collects personal data on issues including climate change and animal rights.) They set common goals on the data-mining of ballot, personal, school, utility and issue data. They provided “authoritative” information to voters, and co-opted local election officials to pressure their vendors to assist the coalition.

Ryan Chew and Noah Praetz

Former Cook County, Ill. election officials, these partisans were experts in drop box implementation, absentee ballot processing, and ballot curing. The thing is, drop boxes and ballot curing are illegal in Wisconsin, Illinois doesn’t require voter identification, and their votes are counted behind closed doors without observation. So their expertise didn’t apply to lawful Wisconsin elections, but rather Chicago-style maneuvering.

The Pay-to-Play Takeover of Wisconsin Elections was Deeply Partisan, Opportunistic and Efficient

These groups and their people took control of Wisconsin’s largest election offices within a period of days. They knew exactly what they wanted to accomplish, and they didn’t leave anything to chance. They secured contractual agreements containing the threat of monetary claw-back. They embedded their staff in every aspect of the election process, positioning themselves to receive access to offices, information, and decision making that wasn’t available to the public. In the case of Green Bay, with conservative city and county elected clerks, the groups knew they needed to up the ante with a physical presence, so with the help of the liberal mayor’s office,  two East Coast operatives were physically put in place there. They bulldozed, bamboozled, beguiled, or bullied the local staff as required, although mostly the cold hard cash bought them a welcome mat and starstruck admiration from their fellow partisans.

The CTCL funding rules put local government officials squarely in the role of campaigners. Geographic targeting and advertising designed to turn out only specific groups of voters is the wheelhouse of candidates, campaign committees, and outside groups and are heavily regulated (with substantial reporting requirements) for the purpose of transparency, ethics, and legal compliance. But if they wanted the cash – and what local official isn’t constantly begging for more money – they had to become campaigners. They willingly threw off the yoke of public trust and state statute.

And this is how the votes changed:

Read more at the MacIver Institute. 


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