by Willis Krumholz
Alpha News recently reported that eight Minnesota voters petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court with claims that Minnesota didn’t follow election laws in 2020. As part of their legal effort, these voters are requesting access to data involving Facebook CEO and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s financial influence on how the 2020 election was conducted.
It has been widely reported that Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan gave $350 million to a nonprofit, the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), that re-granted the funds to thousands of local election officials around the country. From the get-go, even before the election, these donations were controversial.
After the election, a study by the Capital Research Center (CRC) found that CTCL’s money in Georgia seemed to sway the state for Democrats. For example, “Of the ten counties with the greatest shifts to the Democratic presidential candidate (comparing 2016 to 2020 votes), nine received CTCL grants.” It is possible that this is explained by CTCL money going to counties with larger populations, but CRC also found that when adjusting for population, Biden counties still received far more money.
Further, none of the money appears to have gone toward election integrity measures. In fact, it is likely the money went toward just the opposite. There’s no way to know, because CTCL won’t disclose how it spent the money until it is required to give at least some disclosure in its next tax filing — which won’t appear until a year from now.
Facebook routinely suppresses information and news outlets it doesn’t like. This goes beyond actual fake news, or fringe groups, and routinely includes the censorship or suppression of mainstream conservative outlets and news stories. Facebook has paid several outlets to provide fact-checks on other outlets’ articles. One Facebook fact-checker is the left-wing “Lead Stories,” which is partly funded by Facebook, Google, and the Chinese company ByteDance, which is inexorably tied to the Chinese Communist Party.
The so-called conservative Never Trump website, The Dispatch, is another Facebook fact-checker. It was able to provide the ammunition to censor pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List’s ads, by falsely claiming that the ads provided “partly false information” about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s views on late-term abortions.
Early in 2020, given the large advantage Facebook advertising gave Trump in 2016, Facebook banned Trump’s campaign ads. Facebook said the ads violated the company guidelines against “organized hate.”
The voters’ petition, filed with the Minnesota Supreme Court, says that the CTCL donated about $6 million to Minnesota election officials in order to “administer, train election judges, promote, and conduct the election.”
The petition also alleges that these donations to election officials were supplemented by left-wing groups.
The petitioners allege that the partisan influence of these private funders on election officials and processes favored Democratic candidates and easily could have changed the outcome of the election, especially in close states and races.
“This public-private partnership effectively placed government’s thumb on the scale to help these private interests achieve their objectives and to benefit the candidates of one political party,” the petition claims.
At the root of the matter, one wonders why it is legal to donate to election officials at all —no matter how “non-partisan” the donor claims to be. There is no word yet whether Minnesota GOP officials and party leaders are taking action to ensure tech billionaire dollars can’t influence Minnesota elections.
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Willis L. Krumholz is a fellow at Defense Priorities. He holds a JD and MBA degree from the University of St. Thomas, and works in the financial services industry. The views expressed are those of the author only. You can follow Willis on Twitter @WillKrumholz.
Photo “Mark Zuckerberg” by Anthony Quintano. CC BY 2.0.