Although about half the states ban private dollars from funding local governing of elections as a response to Mark Zuckerberg’s controversial grants in 2020, a tech-aligned group will dole out individual $500,000 grants to jurisdictions for future elections.
The U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, established in April, will award individual grants of $500,000 to at least two local jurisdictions out of 10 that the organization accepted into the program.
Greenwich, Connecticut, and Macoupin County, Illinois, each will get $500,000 under the alliance’s membership agreement, according to documents obtained by The Daily Signal through public records requests.
The Alliance for Election Excellence primarily is a project of the Center for Tech and Civic Life, or CTCL, which distributed $350 million in grants from a foundation run by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerber and his wife to local election offices. Critics say that money primarily benefited Democrat turnout in the 2020 election.
The Center for Tech and Civic Life teamed with several other technology and election organizations for the alliance. It includes the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, a project of the liberal New Venture Fund, a nonprofit funded by the “dark money” group Arabella Advisors. Arabella is known for bankrolling various groups on the Left.
“They are just bulking up in the states where this funding is still legal, which thankfully is a dwindling number,” J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, an election watchdog group, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview.
A letter from the Alliance for Election Excellence to election officials in each of the 10 jurisdictions, dated Dec. 1, says: “I am pleased to inform you that based on and in reliance upon the information and materials provided [that] the Center for Tech and Civic Life (‘CTCL’), a nonprofit organization tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code (‘IRC’) section 501(c)(3), has decided to award a grant to support the work of Town of Greenwich (‘Grantee’).”
The letter says the amount of the alliance’s grant is $500,000, with the first $150,000 to be paid in December 2022 and another $350,000 to be paid in December 2023. That would place the bulk of the funding just ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
“CTCL’s new effort, camouflaged as the ‘Alliance for Election Excellence,’ still tries to manipulate elections by giving money to government offices. But money always comes with strings, even if CTCL calls them ‘training’ and ‘mentorship,’” Scott Walter, president of the Washington-based Capital Research Center, an investigative think tank, told The Daily Signal in an email.
Walter noted that the Center for Tech and Civic Life is run by Tiana Epps Johnson, who previously helped run the New Organizing Institute, which The Washington Post called “the Democratic Party’s Hogwarts for digital wizardry.”
“The more the Alliance [for Election Excellence] is investigated, the more strings to its money will be found. If Republican operatives tried this scam, the media would rightly blast off their camouflage and expose the partisanship,” Walter told The Daily Signal.
Further evidence that the alliance is both left wing and partisan: Its partners include the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, a pop-up group in the funding empire run by Arabella Advisors, which The Atlantic magazine called a “massive progressive dark-money group,” Walter added.
Although Connecticut and Illinois rarely are competitive in presidential elections, other jurisdictions in the program are in the battleground states of Wisconsin, North Carolina, Nevada, and Michigan. Two jurisdictions are in solidly Democrat California.
The Daily Signal’s records requests with the eight other jurisdictions are pending.
Greenwich, among the most affluent cities in the United States, long has been a Republican stronghold in a blue state. However, Democrats have been victorious there in recent election cycles.
For most of the past two decades, Illinois’ Macoupin County has been a mostly Republican-leaning county in a blue state for presidential elections. But the county previously leaned heavily Democrat in presidential races.
“In terms of favoring one party over another in a future election, I’d refer to item 8 of the grant agreement which specifies, among other things, that the money will not be used to attempt to influence the outcome of an election, in support or opposition of a public question, or in support or opposition of a candidate,” Macoupin County Clerk Pete Duncan told The Daily Signal in an email.
The membership agreement that local government officials sign with the Alliance for Election Excellence requires what it calls a “commitment to nonpartisanship.” It reads:
We are dedicated to supporting election officials and local governments of all size, partisanship, and geography by providing tools and resources that allow officials to conduct safe, secure, trustworthy, and inclusive elections. Our commitment to nonpartisanship is total. We will never attempt to influence the outcome of any election. Period.
The Center for Tech and Civic Life previously has asserted that its grants for operating elections in 2020 went to jurisdictions that were both heavily Democratic and heavily Republican.
A lesson learned from the Zuckerberg grants in 2020, the Public Interest Legal Foundation’s Adams said, is that officials in Republican-leaning counties used the funds for activities such as buying printers, while officials in Democrat-leaning counties used the money for activities such as collecting ballots.
“They [the CTCL] are very, very good at having an extremely factual case that their funding doesn’t help either side and is a neutral flood of money,” Adams told The Daily Signal.
The alliance directs press inquiries to the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which has not responded to inquiries from The Daily Signal for this report.
Election officials in Greenwich didn’t immediately respond to inquiries Tuesday from The Daily Signal.
After the controversy in 2020 following distribution of $350 million in grants by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, to the liberal Center for Tech and Civic Life to promote mail-in voting, drop boxes, and other election-related projects, the billionaires announced that they no longer would finance future such projects.
Also, 24 states enacted bans on private dollars being used to fund election administration for government. These were mostly red states, but some voted Democrat in the last presidential election: Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
In April 2022, the Center for Tech and Civic Life announced it was establishing the Alliance for Election Excellence. As reported by The Daily Signal in July, the largest funder of the alliance’s five-year, $80 million initiative is The Audacious Project, which is financed largely by those connected with the Big Tech sector, including Microsoft and Amazon.
Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.