A group that received hundreds of millions of dollars from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is accused in post-election lawsuits of contributing to constitutional violations in key battleground states.
The Center for Tech and Civic Life, a national nonprofit based in Illinois, provided funding to more than 2,500 election offices across the country to run elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds were used to pay poll workers, put up ballot drop boxes, and acquire mail-in ballot equipment and supplies.
More than $6 million was doled out to officials in Fulton County, Georgia, and to five cities in Wisconsin, according to lawsuits filed in November. The funds were sent to facilitate violations of state law, the lawsuits allege.
The money was sent through agreements that had municipalities run elections in contravention to state law, according to the lawsuits, which were filed by the Thomas More Foundation's Amistad Project. Accepting funding from a private group such as the center is barred by state and federal law, the lawsuits allege.
Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, committed $400 million to the Center for Tech and Civic Life for the nonprofit to assist jurisdictions in running elections.
The center was founded by former managers and staff at the New Organizing Institute, a progressive nonprofit that trained Democrat digital organizers. Neither the center nor Zuckerberg responded to requests for comment.
The money from Zuckerberg led to Democratic strongholds in Pennsylvania taking steps to let voters "cure," or fix, ballots that weren't taken in Republican-dominated areas, creating a two-tiered election system, Amistad Project Director Phill Kline told The Epoch Times.
"Democrat strongholds with Zuckerberg money actually cured absentee ballots that were flawed, contrary to Pennsylvania law, while Republican strongholds refused to lie and in addition didn't have the resources to cure ballots because they didn't have Zuckerberg funding," the former Kansas attorney general said.
Ballot boxes funded by the center were densely placed in Delaware County but few were erected in the 59 counties that Trump won, Kline said. They also showed the consolidation of polling places in a way that disenfranchised Republican strongholds.
"That is a continued election system funded by Zuckerberg where Democrats have every opportunity to vote, including the illegal opportunities to vote. And in the Republican areas, it's harder, because they closed down in-person polling and so forth. And it's a violation of Bush v. Gore, it's a violation of the Equal Protection Clause," Kline said.
Similar issues, including chain of custody concerns for the ballots placed into the drop boxes, arose in other states, according to Kline. For example, there were issues in Wayne County, Michigan, that prompted two canvassing board members to hesitate to certify the election results.
The lawsuits didn't prompt judicial action prior to the election. They're still being considered.
Several weeks after the suits were filed, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, warned officials across Louisiana not to accept funds from the Center for Tech and Civic Life.
"Whether the defendants here may be well-intentioned, private money in any amount, but particularly the amount of money offered by the defendants to select clerks and/or registrars, has an inherently insidious and corrupting effect,” Landry's office said in the suit.
Another suit filed in Michigan in October accused Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, of allowing "partisan operatives" to interfere in the election by giving out funds for printing and distributing mail-in ballots and other efforts. The suit named the Center for Tech and Civic Life. The center called the litigation frivolous and said plaintiffs were "wasting election officials’ time at the voter’s expense, while also peddling misinformation.”