Big Tech Elections Nonprofit and Maricopa County Hire Yavapai County Election Officials

Big Tech Elections Nonprofit and Maricopa County Hire Yavapai County Election Officials

By Corinne Murdock |

The two Yavapai County election leaders that made headlines for abandoning office in response to 2020 election-related threats have escaped to other elections-related roles.

Former Yavapai County Elections Director Lynn Constabile became the elections engagement manager last month for a nonprofit founded by former Big Tech leaders and advised by three chief technology officers from the Obama administration, U.S. Digital Response (USDR), and former Recorder Leslie Hoffman became Maricopa County’s director of recording services as of Monday. 

Both abandoned their offices about a month before this latest primary election. 

Constabile’s new employer, USDR, was co-founded in March of 2020 by its interim CEO, Jessica Cole: formerly a tech policy fellow at the Aspen Institute, an organization integral to the censorship of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story released weeks before the 2020 election.

USDR’s other co-founders were Alex Allain, CTO, formerly an engineering director for Dropbox; Emily Barlow, formerly an engineering program manager and global sourcing manager for Apple; Jessica Watson, formerly a product design director for Facebook; and Raphael Lee, formerly of Lob and Airbnb.

USDR admits that its founding purpose was to intervene in local election processes. Since 2020, co-founder Raphael Lee explained on LinkedIn that USDR has expanded operations to address a whole host of progressive initiatives: criminal justice reform, Afghan refugee resettlement, unemployment insurance reform, federal grant management, COVID-19 government messaging and vaccine distribution.

“In March of 2020, when COVID-19 came to the US, we organized a volunteer-run, non-partisan effort to help federal, state, and local government with technology, data, design, operations, communications, project management, and other needs during the crisis,” wrote Lee. “USDR became a fiscally sponsored nonprofit project in the summer of 2020.”

All three of USDR’s advisors hail were deputy chief technology officers in the Obama administration: Cori Zarek, Jennifer Pahlka, and Ryan Panchadsaram. 

Among USDR’s partners is the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS). USDR’s major funders include the Rockefeller Foundation.

USDR has worked with 48 elections offices and nonprofits. Additionally, they report impacting 42 million people throughout 36 states, and worked with over 230 governments and organizations on over 300 projects. 

As AZ Free News reported, Big Tech companies took a major interest in the 2020 election as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic arose that March. As one example, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg pumped his elections-focused nonprofit with over $350 million to execute what USDR desired to carry out. 

In a press release Monday announcing Hoffman’s hire, the Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said that Hoffman was one of the first individuals he relied on when he assumed office. 

“Leslie was one of the first people I reached out to upon taking office, and her experience and advocacy for the functions of this office make her a great fit for this position,” said Richer.

AZ Free News reached out to the recorder’s office for further comment on the implication of hiring an individual who resigned from office amid the midterms, days before the primary election. Their spokesman said that they had no comment beyond their press release, just that they were thrilled to have Hoffman’s experience.

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