‘Zuckerbucks’ Are Gone But Influence Operations Remain, According to Congressional Witness

In Congressional testimony, Capital Research Center President Scott Walter said the Center for Tech and Civic Life is ready to repeat its 2020 efforts in 2024.
‘Zuckerbucks’ Are Gone But Influence Operations Remain, According to Congressional Witness
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (L) testifies before the House Financial Services Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, in Washington, on Oct. 23, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Austin Alonzo

A group that allegedly worked to drive left-leaning voter turnout is gearing up to play a role in the 2024 election, according to congressional testimony.

On Feb. 7, the Committee on House Administration held a hearing titled “Confronting Zuckerbucks, Private Funding of Election Administration.”

The committee, chaired by Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), considered the role of money originating from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan to finance the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL).

The Epoch Times previously reported that the CTCL received $350 million from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in an effort to protect the health of voters and election officials during the pandemic.

In actuality, according to The Epoch Times report, the money predominantly went to 2,500 mostly liberal jurisdictions in swing states to pay for new polling locations, ballot drop boxes, so-called voter education centers, and campaigns to reach non-English-speaking voters.

Brian Baker, a spokesman for Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Chan, disputed the source of the funding cited in The Epoch Times’ previous report. He said the money that went to CTCL came directly from Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Chan, not the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

“These nonpartisan donations were intended to help Americans safely vote during the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID pandemic,” Mr. Baker said. “Every jurisdiction that applied for a grant received one, and CTCL’s public filings show that President Trump won more than 60 percent of the 2,500 jurisdictions in 49 states that received funding.”

In his opening statement, Mr. Steil described how jurisdictions across the United States are prohibiting, or now working to ban, private entities from repeating the 2020 effort.

He called for bipartisan legislation to enact federal restrictions on such practices.

The committee’s ranking member, Rep. Joseph Morelle (D-N.Y.), dismissed the premise of the hearing entirely and said the Republican members have “no evidence” of nonprofit grants supporting a “nefarious partisan scandal and plot.”

Mr. Zuckerberg, according to Mr. Steil and the witnesses, has said the 2020 expenditure was a one-time effort and won’t be repeated.

Nevertheless, the CTCL is still actively working to either repeat what it allegedly did in 2020 or find ways to circumvent new election integrity laws to get itself involved with local elections and influence officials once again, according to the witnesses.

People vote on election day in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Nov. 8, 2022. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
People vote on election day in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Nov. 8, 2022. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
One of the witnesses called to testify before the committee, Capital Research Center President Scott Walter, said the CTCL has now rolled out a five-year, $80 million initiative called the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence.
In an April 2022 release, the newly formed alliance said it is “bringing together bipartisan election officials to rally around a set of common values and standards, support each other, and keep their skills fresh.”
According to the CTCL’s website, it hosts so-called Centers for Election Excellence in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin.

“The Centers for Election Excellence are coming together to support each other, share best practices, and shape a new set of performance standards for the field,” the CTCL website says.

“Their work will uplift and advance the profession of U.S. election administration for years to come.”

In reality, according to Mr. Walter, the CTCL, under the guise of the alliance or the centers, is working to “ensnare local government offices.”

Mr. Walter, citing the Honest Elections Project, said the alliance is working on getting into North Carolina counties—the centers are located in Brunswick County, near Wilmington, and Forsyth County, home to Winston-Salem—where the CTCL intends to provide in-kind services that “may escape existing private funding bans” and ask for “in-kind services from government offices, including data on voting.”

The CTCL, Mr. Walter also said, is also looking for ways to get federal disaster funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency “because the federal government has even more billions than Mr. Zuckerberg.”

This would be another way to avoid private funding bans.

All of this, he said, would promote “the same sort of technical data-driven and activist-led manipulation of the election system in favor of Democrats the CTCL mounted in 2020.”

When answering a question from Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.), Mr. Walter said the CTCL, calling itself the alliance, is also handing out credits that can be spent only at one of their partner organizations as another way to circumvent laws preventing private funding of public elections.

Mr. Walter also called out the Voter Registration Project, a tax-exempt nonprofit group that calls itself a nonpartisan get-out-the-vote effort.

He said the use of a 501(c)(3), bankrolled by charitable dollars from private foundations or donor-advised funds, is “outrageous” and “illegal.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the source of funding for the Center For Tech and Civic Life in 2020. The Epoch Times regrets the error.
Austin Alonzo covers U.S. political and national news for The Epoch Times. He has covered local, business and agricultural news in Kansas City, Missouri, since 2012. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri. You can reach Austin via email at [email protected]