Maricopa Supervisor’s ‘Defender of Democracy’ Award From Big Tech-Funded, Election-Influencing Nonprofit

December 20, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

Maricopa County Supervisor Jack Sellers capped off his year-end newsletter by celebrating a “Defender of Democracy” award from a Big Tech-funded, election-influencing nonprofit.

Sellers received the award in July alongside Elections Director Scott Jarrett and outgoing Secretary of State/governor-elect Katie Hobbs’ assistant secretary of state-turned-chief of staff, Allie Bones. The Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR) issued the awards. CEIR received $69.5 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, in August 2020 through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative — three months before the contentious presidential election. 

Ultimately, CEIR gave nearly all of those funds — over $64.2 million — to state and local government officials to encourage mail voting and enhance voter information. Arizona received nearly $4.8 million. That was on top of other Big Tech monies that Arizona’s election officials received. As AZ Free News reported last March, the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) issued $5 million to the state. $3 million went to Maricopa County specifically.

The founder and executive director of CEIR is former DOJ lawyer David Becker. He disputed that CEIR’s funds swayed the 2020 election. CEIR reported that 85 percent of the funds were used for paid media, while 11 percent were for direct mail and 4 percent were for communications activities. 

Further details about what the media entailed weren’t provided. The general report bears some similarities to CTCL’s vagueness concerning the expenditures of its funds.

Arizona was one of 23 states to receive CEIR grants. The others were Connecticut, $2.1 million; Florida, $287,000; Georgia, $5.6 million; Illinois, $2.7 million; Iowa, $1 million; Kentucky, $1.6 million; Maryland, $575,000; Massachusetts, $200,000; Michigan, $12 million; Minnesota, $1.5 million; Missouri, $1.1 million; New Jersey, $6.1 million; New Mexico, $768,000; New York, $5 million; North Carolina, $1.1 million; Ohio, $1.1 million; Pennsylvania, $13.2 million; Rhode Island, $632,000; South Carolina, $1 million; Vermont, $312,000; and Washington, $405,000.

Washington, D.C. received over $800,000.


The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative hasn’t publicly announced any funds it gave, if any, for this recent election.

While serving in the Civil Rights Division Voting Section in the early 2000s, Becker enforced the Voting Rights Act. The DOJ acting head at the time, Brad Schlozman, told reporters in 2020 that Becker should’ve been disbarred for unethical behavior. Schlozman described Becker as a “hard-core leftist” who “couldn’t stand conservatives.” Becker didn’t dispute the claims against him for unethical behavior, but noted that they were dismissed.

Other election officials to receive CEIR’s award included election officials from Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. Other recipients of the award included lawyers from the Election Official Legal Defense Network, two former officials with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and two retired federal judges.

Two journalists also received the award: Reuters reporters Linda So and Jason Szep, for a series titled “Campaign of Fear: The Trump world’s assault on U.S. election workers.”

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

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