“Dark money” groups on the left that seek to control local election offices across the country could further undermine confidence in American elections, some House Republicans fear.
“Let’s call this what it really is—a blatant attack on the security and integrity of the fairness and transparency of our elections,” Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., the co-chairwoman of the House Election Integrity Caucus, told The Daily Signal, when asked about two organizations in particular.
Dark money is a term for a system of financing in politics that typically hides or obscures the identities of donors.
The Daily Signal reported July 18 on two groups with similar goals for controlling local election offices, after 21 states enacted bans against private money helping bankroll election administration.
Run for Something, a Democrat-aligned political action committee, established a “Clerk Work” program to help get election clerks elected.
Separately, the Center for Tech and Civic Life—which distributed $350 million in election administration grants from Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan in the 2020 cycle—launched the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence to train election officials.
The organizations are spending $80 million each on their goals.
“Dark money liberal advocacy groups will stop at nothing to inject partisan funds into election administration efforts,” Tenney said in a written statement. “They did it in 2020 with ‘Zuckerbucks,’ and they are continuing to find ways to do it today.”
She added: “I am working every day to hold these dark money groups accountable, expose their shady tactics, and keep partisan influence operations out of election administration.”
Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif., the other co-chairman of the House Election Integrity Caucus, added that improving confidence in elections won’t come from partisans seeking a leg up.
“Propping up partisan operatives to serve as election clerks will not solve our election integrity issues, and it definitely will not restore confidence in our electoral system on either side of the aisle,” Garcia told The Daily Signal in a written statement. “It’s going to take careful consideration and deliberate debate on these matters to improve election integrity and bolster faith in our elections.”
Run for Something established its Clerk Work project with the goal of electing clerks, election supervisors, registrars, recorders, and other local officials charged with running elections.
The PAC says it will promote thousands of election administrators in the years ahead. But for 2022, it reports endorsing 11 candidates competing in races in California, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
On Saturday, Run for Something co-founder Amanda Litman tweeted the claim that the Clerk Work program is defending elections, pointing to reports of local Republican election officials in New Mexico, Nevada, and Pennsylvania questioning election outcomes.
“This is why @runforsomething’s Clerk Work program is so important: The next phase of election subversion & coup attempts will start with local elected officials,” Litman’s tweet said.
In a somewhat fawning article on Run for Something published Thursday, Time magazine reported that Clerk Work recruited about 300 candidates to run for local offices that oversee elections, with 200 of those candidates in swing states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Nevada.
“Steve Bannon and a huge part of the right is trying to get their people into these offices, and there needed to be a counterbalance to that,” Ross Morales Rocketto, another co-founder of Run for Something, told Time, referring to the former campaign adviser to candidate Donald Trump and White House adviser to Trump as president. “The biggest threat is that these folks get on the ballot and are unopposed.”
However, Rocketto complained to Time that donors were not enthusiastic, noting, “We could have done more if the funding had come in quicker,” he said.
Run for Something, a 527 political action committee aimed at winning down-ballot races, did not respond to The Daily Signal’s inquiries for this article.
The Alliance for Election Excellence is a five-year, $80 million project made up of seven nonprofit organizations aimed at advising local election offices on how to run elections in their jurisdictions.
The Center for Tech and Civic Life is the leading organization among the seven in the alliance.
In 2020, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative gave $350 million to the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a left-leaning group that distributed grants to mostly Democrat-dominated precincts, driving up voter turnout. The Zuckerberg grants, dubbed “Zuckerbucks,” helped finance dropboxes and expanded mail-in balloting, among other activities.
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