Perhaps the biggest underreported story of 2020 was how one billionaire, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, joined with a sleepy Chicago-based 501(c)(3) public charity to effectively privatize the 2020 election in many states.
Meet the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), which funneled an unprecedented $350 million from Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, to local elections officials for COVID-19 “relief.” In a blink, CTCL grew from almost nothing — its 2018 revenues were just $1.4 million — to a titan with the means to heavily influence election outcomes in favor of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in key battleground states.
CTCL flooded Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere with millions of dollars in “Zuck bucks,” largely targeting major Democratic strongholds that helped Biden flip them blue.
In Georgia alone, CTCL’s grants benefited nine of the ten counties with the greatest Democratic vote shifts between 2016 and 2020. Democratic election officials in Philadelphia received $10 million from CTCL, a whopping $13.60 for every voter who cast a ballot there. And in Arizona, CTCL gave Maricopa County elections officials — the only county to flip from red to blue in the state — close to $3 million, or $1.80 for every Biden vote in the jurisdiction. Maricopa contains roughly 62% of the state’s population and over 60% of its registered voters; flipping it all but guaranteed Biden would clinch the conservative stronghold.
CTCL’s interference recently emboldened the Republican-led Georgia state legislature to propose a ban on outside funding of elections in the state in direct response to Zuckerberg’s growing influence in its elections.
But CTCL is really just the latest iteration in the Left’s long campaign to use tax-exempt nonprofits to elect Democrats.
CTCL’s founders, all hardened activists, sharpened their skills at the New Organizing Institute (NOI), a nonprofit formed in 2004 to train community organizers in get-out-the-vote efforts. Although the group collapsed in 2015, it was the darling of the Left — the Washington Post once gushed that the group was “the Democratic Party’s Hogwarts for digital wizardry” and “the Left’s think tank for campaign know-how.”
NOI was the brainchild of Judith Freeman, an AFL-CIO strategist, and Zack Exley, founding community organizing director for MoveOn.org and a leading light for today’s radical Left, including socialist Bernie Sanders’ (I-VA) 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. During its lifetime, NOI trained thousands of professional activists nationwide in using 501(c)(3) nonprofits to get-out-the-vote for Democrats.
This was the school that spawned CTCL’s founders: Whitney May, Tiana Epps-Johnson, and Donny Bridges, who continue NOI’s goal of weaponizing charitable groups to cement a permanent Democratic advantage in elections — with access to almost unlimited funds from Mark Zuckerberg and other partisan mega-donors.
In leftist politics, past is almost always prologue. Big Philanthropy swayed the 2020 election in favor of Democrats, and it will do so again in 2022 and 2024 if given the chance. It’s time for conservatives to wise up to the long reach of the Left’s nonprofit netherworld and ban 501(c)(3) groups from meddling in our elections — these charities are no longer charitable.
This article first appeared in Issues and Insights on February 23, 2021.