Was R.I. part of the Left’s Dark Money Scheme to Influence Elections?

The Center for Tech and Civic Life forms an $80 million Alliance to push left-wing voting policies.

Earlier this week, the Honest Elections Project (HEP) released a report in conjunction with the John Locke Foundation, exposing the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence as an $80 million left-wing initiative launched to target local election offices and systematically influence every aspect of their operations while pushing left-wing voting policies.

The Alliance is a coalition of left-wing nonprofits and likeminded companies led by the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL). In 2020, CTCL played a central roll in the so-called “Zuck Buck” scheme to steer more than $400 million in private election funding from Mark Zuckerberg disproportionately to jurisdictions that voted Democratic. Despite claiming to be nonpartisan, CTCL and other Alliance partners have deep ties to the Democratic Party, to partisan campaigns, and to left-wing “dark money” funders like the Arabella Advisors network.

Through public records requests, HEP obtained communications between Alliance partners and local election offices selected to join the program, including offices in the counties of Brunswick and Forsyth, North Carolina. These records shed light on the Alliance’s unusual structure and the alarming scope of CTCL’s growing behind-the-scenes influence over election administration.

Membership and grant agreements, as well as other records uncovered by HEP, reveal a complex operation singularly focused on reshaping election offices while thwarting meaningful oversight and public accountability. Offices are charged to join, and membership fees are converted into credits that can be used to purchase services from CTCL and its partners—including “legal” and “political” consulting. CTCL offers substantial grants which, contrary to CTCL’s own public statements, come with significant restrictions. Additionally, the records reveal a quid pro quo structure. In exchange for grants and services, officials are expected to provide CTCL and partners with in-kind contributions at taxpayers’ expense. The Alliance even provides talking points that officials can use to dismiss public concerns over participation in the scheme.

Sara Vieira, Director of Fair Elections RI, released the following statement:

“We have documented proof that hundreds of thousands of dollars of out-of-state CTLC grants, from private sources affiliated with the far Left, were dumped into local government elections agencies in Rhode Island in 2020; government agencies that are supposed to be nonpartisan. These funds significantly shifted outcomes in favor of Democrats. On top of last year’s passage of the “Let RI Vote” act, which made it easier to cheat, such financial interference in our Ocean State’s elections only serves to create even more distrust among the public about the integrity of our elections process.”

Jason Snead, Executive Director of Honest Elections Project, released the following statement:

“Elections should be transparent and accountable to the people. No matter what it claims to be, the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence is nothing more than a dark money-fueled scheme to push liberal voting policies and influence election administration in key states and localities. Nobody should be able to manipulate the democratic process for partisan gain, which is why nearly half the states have banned private funding for elections. Unfortunately, North Carolina remains exposed to this manipulation because a commonsense ban was vetoed by the governor. This report should make clear that a private funding ban, vigorous oversight, and complete transparency from officials are essential to restoring trust in our election system and making it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

Dr. Andy Jackson, Director, Civitas Center for Public Integrity, released the following statement:

“The work of the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence is Zuck bucks 2.0, which is why they avoided states that have instituted bans on the private funding of election administration. At a minimum, this kind of infiltration of election administration by private progressive organizations should be subject to stricter oversight by the North Carolina General Assembly. The General Assembly should also consider passing a ban on Zuck bucks, perhaps as part of the 2023 budget.”

The Alliance is the latest iteration of so-called “Zuck Bucks,” or the steering of enormous sums of private funding from left-wing donors directly into election offices. In 2020, CTCL steered over $400 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg disproportionately into jurisdictions that voted Democratic. Since then, 24 states have pushed back on what has been coined as “Zuck Bucks” by passing laws to ban or restrict private funding of election offices. However, five other states, including North Carolina, have passed “Zuck Buck” bans only to see them vetoed by liberal governors. So far, the Alliance has not targeted any election offices in states with a “Zuck Buck” ban.

Funding for the Alliance was initially provided by the Audacious Project, a nonprofit committed to supporting “bold solutions to the world’s most urgent challenges.” According to their “Membership Agreement,” the Alliance provides different services based on membership level. Members, or taxpayer-funded election offices, agree to pay dues ranging from $1,600-$4,800 annually. However, jurisdictions can enroll in a scholarship program that covers the cost.

The full report can be viewed here.

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