Deception & Misdirection

CTCL’s “Zuck Bucks” Invade Michigan and Wisconsin


The dust from the 2020 election has only begun to settle, but a new threat to future elections has emerged that deserves scrutiny.

A few months before Election Day, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated $350 million to a sleepy Chicago-based nonprofit, the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) to redistribute among county elections officials as COVID-19 “relief” in battleground states. (In 2018, CTCL had $1.4 million in revenue, only $560,000 of it from grants.) These “Zuck bucks” were ostensibly about shoring up polling places amid the Coronavirus pandemic, but in reality they provided new election infrastructure critical to Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump.

CTCL’s $10 million grant to Philadelphia, for example, stipulated that the city use its funds to provide printing and postage for mail-in ballots and scatter “Secure Dropboxes” for voters to drop ballots into. CTCL’s interference effectively greased the wheels for an unprecedented flood of largely untraceable, potentially fraudulent mail-in ballots submitted via private dropboxes with no official oversight or accountability after the fact. If a fraudster wanted to flood the City of Brotherly Love with fake ballots, CTCL’s Zuck bucks allowed him to bypass U.S. Postal Service entirely.

The “nonpartisan” CTCL effectively managed the 2020 election in dozens of key jurisdictions in battleground states critical to the outcome of the presidential election. The Biden campaign to vastly increase voter turnout in these cities and counties to win the election. Worse, mail-in ballots and dropboxes enabled fraudsters to carpet-bomb the 2020 election with ballots that would have been tossed in a normal, Coronavirus-free election year.

In the latest Capital Research Center investigation into the leftist mega-donors behind the 2020 election, we examine CTCL’s grants in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Read our groundbreaking CTCL reports on Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona, and Nevada.

Funding the “Blue Wall”

As part of the Democratic Party’s much-vaunted upper Midwest “Blue Wall”—shattered by Trump in 2016— Michigan and Wisconsin were among the Democrats’ primary targets in 2020.

CTCL has publicly posted a “preliminary” list of grants it paid in 2020, including a whopping 474 local jurisdictions in Michigan and 217 in Wisconsin. This list does not provide individual grant amounts. Yet unlike most other states, the data for Michigan and Wisconsin are mostly divided among cities and townships, not counties, making it nearly impossible to accurately gauge how many Zuck bucks went to key counties.

Nevertheless, CRC has uncovered a $7.4 million in grants to Michigan jurisdictions and $6.7 million paid to Wisconsin jurisdictions.

According to CTCL, the minimum grant a jurisdiction could receive was $5,000. Many small townships received that sum, although many places received six- and seven-figure grants. So adding the $5,000 minimum for the jurisdictions CRC could not find detailed data raises the total Zuck Bucks per state to $9.5 million in Michigan and $7.6 million in Wisconsin.

Given the 2,804,040 votes that Biden received in Michigan (where his margin was 154,000 votes over Trump), CTCL spent $3.38 per Biden voter.

It’s even more stark in Wisconsin, where CTCL spent $4.65 per Biden voter for a total of 1,630,930 Biden votes . (He won the state by less than 21,000 votes over Trump.)

While those figures are estimates, they’re highly plausible since most or all jurisdictions listed in CTCL’s preliminary list likely received grants from CTCL. The true figure received per state is almost certainly much higher, but no one will know until CTCL releases its 2020 Form 990 to the public, likely in late 2021.

Michigan

Because CTCL reported its grants by sub-county jurisdictions, county-by-county data are harder to come by in Michigan than in other states we’ve examined. As a result, some data points are estimates that attempt to line up city- and township-level grants with their respective counties.

  • Biden won only 11 of Michigan’s 83 counties, mostly concentrated around Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing. The 1,799,648 votes from these 11 counties account for 64 percent of his votes statewide and contain almost 55 percent of Michigan’s entire population.
  • CTCL’s largest grants went to:
    • Detroit: $3,512,000
    • Flint: $475,625
    • Lansing: $443,742
    • Muskegon: $433,580
    • Ann Arbor: $417,000
    • Pontiac: $405,564
    • Saginaw: $402,878
    • Grand Rapids: $280,000
    • Kalamazoo: $218,869
    • Eastpointe: $204,000
  • Of these cities, Biden won all but one (Eastpointe in Macomb County) of the counties in which they’re located.
  • In Wayne County, home to Detroit, CTCL spent $5.88 per Biden vote—$2.00 for every man, woman, and child in Michigan’s most populous county.
  • Muskegon County—a county where Biden narrowly edged out Trump—received a staggering $9.49 per Biden voter, or nearly $2.50 per resident.
  • CTCL spent $7.89 per Biden voter in Saginaw County—$2.11 per resident.
  • CTCL spent more than $3.98 per Biden vote in in Genesee County, centered on Flint ($1.17 per resident).
  • It spent $4.71 per Biden vote in Ingham County, home to Lansing ($1.52 per resident). Biden won Ingham County 65 to 33 percent.
  • In Oakland County, a Detroit suburb centered on Pontiac, which gave Biden his second-largest vote total, CTCL spent the bargain price of $0.93 per Biden vote.

Wisconsin

As in Michigan, CTCL reported its preliminary grants by sub-county jurisdictions, making it difficult to obtain county-level data. As a result, some data points are estimates that attempt to line up city- and township-level grants with the counties in which they’re located.

  • Biden won 14 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, concentrated around Madison, Milwaukee, Eau Claire, and Superior on the state’s northern shore. The 786,500 votes from these 14 counties account for almost half (48.2 percent) of his votes statewide and contain over one-third (37.6 percent) of Wisconsin’s entire population.
  • CTCL’s largest grants went to:
    • Milwaukee: $2,154,500
    • Madison: $1,271,788
    • Green Bay: $1,093,400
    • Racine: $942,100
    • Kenosha: $862,779
    • Janesville: $183,292
  • In Milwaukee County, CTCL spent $6.79 for every Biden vote. Milwaukee was Biden’s largest vote-getting county statewide, which he won 69 to 24 percent.
  • In Dane County, centered on Madison, CTCL spent $4.89 for every Biden vote. Dane County was Biden’s second-largest vote-getting county, which he won nearly 76 to 23 percent.
  • Brown County (centered on Green Bay), which Trump won 53 to 47 percent, received a stunning $16.69 per Biden voter.
  • In Racine County, which Trump won 51 to 47 percent, CTCL spent $18.78 for every Biden vote.
  • But the award goes to Kenosha County, where CTCL spent $20.45 for every Biden vote, only for Trump to win it 51 to 48 percent.

Politics Playing at Philanthropy

CTCL’s targeted distribution of grants appears to clearly qualify as election interference by a tax-exempt nonprofit—something 501(c)(3) groups are strictly barred from. Yet CTCL and Zuckerberg are heroes who “saved the election,” according to leftist observers.

Yet what would those journalists and Big Tech executives say if a conservative billionaire decided to privatize an election using a 501(c)(3) charity?

Appendix

CTCL grant data for Michigan and Wisconsin

Hayden Ludwig

Hayden Ludwig is a Senior Investigative Researcher at Capital Research Center. He is also a columnist at the Washington Free Beacon. Ludwig is a native of Orange County, California, and…
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