With Attempted Repeal of ‘Zuckbucks’ Ban, Virginia Dems Aim to Flood Elections with Billionaire Cash
Last spring, Virginia Democrats and Republicans banned private funding for elections as part of a nationwide surge in election integrity bills meant to push back against the lawlessness and chaos Americans saw during the 2020 election. The goal of SB 80 — and similar bills passed in 23 other states — was to prevent another flood of “Zuckbucks,” when the partisan Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) poured $350 million from Mark Zuckerberg into (largely Democratic) elections offices across the country.
Now that achievement is threatened as Senate Democrats attempt to repeal the Zuckbucks ban, exposing Virginia’s elections to unaccountable money and partisan influence forever.
SB 1180 was introduced on Jan. 10 by Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Arlington, who voted to ban Zuckbucks last year. SB 1180 was recently voted out of the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections on partisan lines, and it will now move on to the Democrat-controlled Senate. The same committee voted unanimously to advance the ban a year ago.
What changed? Simple: CTCL and its latest scheme.
Two months after Virginia’s Democratic-controlled Senate voted to ban Zuckbucks, CTCL launched the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, an $80 million coalition of activists, strategy groups, and political consultants with a dark vision for America’s elections. Two members represent the $1.6 billion Arabella Advisors “dark money” network, the most powerful liberal lobbying force in Washington, D.C.
CTCL assured the nation at the time that the alliance wouldn’t provide private funding, only “training” for election administrators. Now it’s dangling six- and seven-figure grants to lure county elections officials into joining this secretive project — money which supposedly comes with “almost no restrictions on how it can be spent,” according to AP.
In reality, secret documents reveal how the alliance created “scholarships” to cover membership fees charged to counties, then converted those awards to “credits” which counties can use to purchase services exclusively from alliance partners, all of whom are partisan groups aiming to expand vote-by-mail, roll back voter ID laws, and implement the left’s raft of extreme election “reforms.”
Nevada’s Clark County, centered in Las Vegas, got $3 million. Madison, Wisconsin — one of the first cities to propose and receive Zuckbucks in 2020 — got another $1.5 million. North Carolina’s Brunswick and Forsyth Counties declined the funding but agreed to CTCL’s “training” courses. And after an ugly battle, Greenwich, Connecticut, narrowly voted (104–101) to accept a $500,000 alliance grant, with Zuckbuck zealots labeling skeptics “conspiracy theorists” sick with the “MAGA virus.”
Legislatures in three of the seven states where CTCL offered grants banned or restricted private funding for elections after 2020, only for the Democratic governors to veto the bills — in Wisconsin’s case, twice.
All of this sets up Virginia as the next battlefield for Zuckbucks, should Democrats successfully repeal their own ban on private funding. SB 1180 contains an Alliance for Election Excellence carveout for:
the acceptance of technical assistance, research, or subject matter expertise regarding election law, policies, and administration by any state or local elections officials[.]
It’s too early to tell which groups, if any, are lobbying for the bill. But it’s evident to anyone who’s followed the election integrity fights of the past two years that the states will have to do more to shore up their elections before the professional activists come knocking.
This article originally appeared in The Federalist on February 6, 2023.