“Zuckerbucks” are the $400 million donated by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to local officials to run the 2020 presidential elections in battleground states.
There is a lot of suspicion about the influence that money had on the elections. In Wisconsin, for example, investigators found local officials essentially turned over control to private groups funded by Zuckerberg.
Now, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) says there is funding left over from the 2020 general election that could be used to influence the 2022 midterms.
The report details some $16.5 million the Center for Tech and Civil Life granted to Florida county supervisors of elections.
The center received Zuckerberg’s donations and distributed them with strings attached.
“Many of these grants arrived very late in the election cycle, resulting in over $4.6 million of leftover cash with the capability of affecting the 2022 elections,” PILF said.
“Unlike other states, Florida records show a pattern of the late-arriving grants being shoved into digital media outreach campaigns, namely to the benefit of Facebook and Google ad sales departments. In detailed spending accounts disclosed to PILF, Palm Beach County promised to spend $250,000 on digital ads with Facebook, Google, and YouTube if granted the money per its ‘Safe Voting Plan,’” the organization said.
However, the influence, while possible in other states getting Zuckerbucks, likely won’t happen in Florida.
Lawmakers in the Sunshine State closed the loophole in election law, banning private funding of election operations.
J. Christian Adams, president and general counsel of the foundation, said corporate-funded elections “violate some of the most basic principles of election integrity.”
“It’s the job of local governments to budget for and administer our voting processes,” he said. “I commend Governor (Ron) DeSantis and all involved in helping to make Florida a leader against this threat.”
PILF said that of the $16 million donated to 11 Florida counties, there was money left over in Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Leon, Brevard, Alachua, Hernando and Wakulla counties.
Some amounts are small, such as Wakulla’s $2,811. But the others are considerably larger, with Palm Beach’s leftovers at $1.3 million, Miami-Dade’s $2.4 million, Leon’s $664,000 and Alachua’s $203,000.
Brevard and Hernando had $60,000 and $28,000 respectively.
“Unspent ZuckBucks are proving to be quite widespread among states accepting the grants. The grant letters detailing the cash award and instructions noted that recipients had until December 31, 2020, to expend all funds and give a report by January 31, 2021,” PILF said.
“On that date, subject counties were to report their activities with the monies, and, if needed, ask for a six-month extension. … The counties showing leftover cash now have until July 31 to report their activities, if so authorized.”
PILF explained that the counties were not given much “latitude” in their spending. The money went to voter education, equipment, poll worker recruitment, temporary staffing, ballot dropboxes, PPE and office expenses.
And thousands of dollars went straight to Facebook advertising purchases.
PILF pointed out that there was no Florida county in which the expected vote switched as a result of the donations. Five GOP counties and seven Democratic counties got the money.
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