AMAC Exclusive-By Sam Adolphsen
Following the 2020 election, dozens of states have moved to curb the influence of so-called “Zuckerbucks” in their elections after Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg poured more than $350 million into the American elections system in 2020 – almost all of it appearing to benefit Democrat candidates. But as AMAC Newsline reported late last month, where Republicans saw the potential for corruption, the White House saw inspiring possibilities to protect their power, giving rise to “Bidenbucks.” Now, the full scope of the Biden administration’s plan to turn the federal government into a massive get out the vote machine for Democratic candidates is coming into full focus.
Soon after taking office, President Biden issued Executive Order 14019, formally titled “Promoting Access to Voting.” While that sounds like a worthy cause, the details quickly reveal an insidious plan to unleash an army of federal bureaucrats to influence elections under the guise of “increasing voter participation.” Worse, this new federal undertaking will be coordinated in part by private organizations – the EO itself was crafted by the socialist advocacy group Demos.
Some of the first wave of federal government efforts to influence elections are already underway and are truly shocking. For example, the office in charge of food stamps at the Department of Agriculture recently sent out guidance to state welfare agencies on how “to promote access to voting through the child nutrition programs.”
The Federal Highway Administration sent out guidance to state Department of Transportation’s instructing them to study the impacts of traffic on elections, and tasked them specifically to “work toward solutions to ease potential traffic bottlenecks around polling places during elections.” This may sound reasonable, until it is understood that it is not all traffic they want to ease, just the traffic in “geographic areas of need, including densely populated, underserved and disadvantaged communities.”
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has also decided that federal employees can have paid time off on Election Day, to make sure that this group of overwhelmingly Democratic-leaning voters can make it to the polls, even if many blue-collar Americans who typically vote Republican cannot.
What Biden has made clear from these steps is that the federal government will pick and choose which voters will be the beneficiaries of these policies. Just like Zuckerbucks before it, it appears Bidenbucks guidance and funding will be targeted to blue constituencies in a thinly-veiled effort to turn out the vote for one major political party – while actively ignoring turnout efforts for the other.
Thankfully, some states are taking notice and trying to get out ahead of this problem.
Louisiana, which was the first state to pass a Zuckerbucks ban prior to the 2020 election, only to have it vetoed by Democrat Governor John Bel Edwards, is trying to push back on Biden’s new maneuvers to influence the impartial administration of elections by the states. The Republican-controlled legislature is currently considering HB 359, a bill that would require election officials to provide notice of, and allow the state legislative committees to review and veto, any new federal guidance or funding for elections prior to implementation if it isn’t explicitly required by law.
Other states may soon follow with measures to counter Bidenbucks after recently passing measures to ban Zuckerbucks. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, for example, have moved to ban private funding for elections through their Republican legislatures in recent weeks. However, Wisconsin Democrat Governor Tony Evers vetoed the bill for a second time in a state where more than $10 million in Zuckerbucks had a major impact on the election, while Pennsylvania Democrat Governor Tom Wolf also vetoed a similar bill last year, despite Pennsylvania being ground-zero for unfair election influence from Zuckerbucks.
But even with some progress being made, those states and others may soon have to worry about rebranded and revamped versions of Zuckerbucks.
The Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), the organization through which most of the Zuckerbucks funds flowed in 2020, just announced at a TED conference that they are going to hand out a whole new round of “grants” to pump millions more into local elections this time around.
Through their newly created “U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence,” the CTCL is poised to repeat the same basic plan it executed two years ago by giving out millions for “aid to improve their technology and processes.” Of course, the group’s founder said they just want to make sure that “local election officials no longer have to go it alone” – but that claim rings rather hollow to millions of conservatives who watched the same organization systematically work to advantage Democratic candidates in 2020.
CTCL is also partnering with two California colleges and is soliciting local election offices to work with them to become a “U.S. Center for Election Excellence.” The deadline for an office to “partner” with them is May 6th. This aggressive timeline is presumably to make sure they can impact the 2022 elections, which are looking increasingly grim for Democrats.
Most concerningly for election integrity advocates, it is unclear if the Zuckerbucks bans already in place will prevent these new left-wing grants from influencing elections. State attorney generals will likely have to weigh in on the legality of these new grants, and at the very least states should be on guard to monitor where, and for what purpose, these new grants are deployed.
Whether or not Biden’s attempts to influence elections through the power of the federal government will hold up in court remains to be seen, as several conservative legal groups are already threatening lawsuits. But there is no question that the new private funding of elections by the left-wing CTCL, along with the massive federal encroachment over state and local election procedures, is meant to influence what happens in 2022 elections and beyond. States need to stand up against this threat now, before it’s too late.
Sam Adolphsen is the former chief operating officer at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. He currently serves as the policy director at the Foundation for Government Accountability and lives in Maine.