In a move prompted in part by Big Tech’s interference in the 2020 election, State Representative Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix) introduced a bill to prohibit election officials from running a political action committee (PAC).
The bill, HB2270, is concise: 50 words total. It exempts those PACs backing an election official’s own campaign.
“An individual who is an election officer or employee or who oversees any significant aspect of election operations may not be a chairperson, treasurer, or other member of a political action committee,” read the bill. “This section does not apply to an individual’s membership in a candidate committee for that individual’s own candidacy.”
In a statement, Bolick recounted how Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s foundation, the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), gave over $5 million to counties across Arizona, with $3 million to Maricopa County alone. She expressed gratitude that the legislature passed a law last year barring election offices from receiving private funds.
“Leading up to the 2020 elections, money from Big Tech and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg played an outsized influence in Arizona’s elections,” said Bolick. “Arizonans want us to restore election integrity and their faith in their election officers to conduct fair and honest elections. This bill would ensure Arizona is not for sale by special interests or out-of-state billionaires. It is time to close the final loophole by prohibiting an election officer or employee who oversees any significant aspect of election operations from running a political action committee that could potentially sway an election outcome.”
If passed, the bill could squash the aspirations of some prominent figures associated with the contentious 2020 election. One such figure would be Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, who launched a PAC last November, a little over a year after the presidential election.
Richer’s PAC, Pro-Democracy Republicans of Arizona, backs those GOP candidates running for legislative and county-level seats that profess a Lincoln Project or Republican Accountability Project-esque stance, as reported by AZ Mirror: “acknowledg[ing] validity of the 2020 election and condemn[ing] the events of January 6, 2021 as a terrible result of the lies told about the November election.”
The Republican Accountability Project is an initiative by the Democratic “Never-Trump” dark money group, Defending Democracy Together. Last September, Richer and Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates appeared in a video by the group to discuss the Senate’s election audit led by Cyber Ninjas as well as the January 6 riot. Afterwards, Richer told AZ Free News that he believed January 6 reminded him of the French Revolution.
State Representatives Walt Blackman (R-Snowflake), Frank Carroll (R-Sun City West, Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), Lupe Diaz (R-Hereford), and Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott) cosponsored Bolick’s bill.
Recent IRS filings revealed that Arizona received nearly $5.17 million during the 2020 election from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), pumped with over $350 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to funnel into election offices nationwide. The Zuckerberg funds were intended to provide COVID-19 relief; in large part, they funded controversial election methods like ballot drop-boxes. The Capital Research Center (CRC) first announced the CTCL IRS filings.
The CTCL numbers concurred with AZ Free News reporting earlier this year on CRC data, which reported that CTCL spent just over $5 million in Arizona. In fact, the CRC estimate turned out to be slightly lower.
According to the IRS filings, CTCL’s biggest grant was Maricopa County at over $1.84 million. The runner-up grant amounted to over $950,400 awarded to Pima County. Several counties received slightly under or over half a million each: Navajo County received over $593,700, Apache County received nearly $589,700, Coconino County received over $524,500, and Pinal County received over $472,500.
Yuma County still received a six-figure grant: over $180,700. La Paz County was the odd man out with a $17,500 grant.
President Joe Biden won the following counties funded by CTCL grants: Maricopa (50.3 percent), Apache (66.2 percent), Coconino (60.9 percent), Pima (58.6 percent). Biden also won Santa Cruz (67.2 percent), which had no CTCL grants.
Pima County Supervisors Ally Miller and Steve Christy voted against certifying the 2020 election over the Zuckerberg grants, as Miller explained in an opinion piece published in the Arizona Daily Independent last month. The supervisors didn’t believe the grant money was helping to secure the election.
Of those counties he won, Biden flipped Maricopa from the 2016 election — which Hillary Clinton lost by over four points. He also earned about four percent more of the votes than Clinton in the counties they both won.
Biden lost the following counties funded by CTCL grants: Navajo (45.2 percent), Pinal (40.6 percent), and La Paz (30 percent). However, he lost by a smaller margin than Clinton did, gaining an average of two more points in both counties.
CRC’s reported grants varied slightly from those given in the filings: they reported learning of nearly $3 million to Maricopa County, over $806,000 to Pinal County, nearly $614,700 to Coconino County, and over $593,200 to Apache County. Their estimate of La Paz County’s grant was accurate. CRC didn’t have data on the grants awarded to Navajo, Yuma, or Pima counties.
AZ Free News reached out to Maricopa County about the grant total discrepancy. They didn’t respond by press time.
By Scott Walter and Aimee Yentes | AZ Free Enterprise Club |
How many Arizonans like the idea of one billionaire family manipulating the way Arizona county election offices operate? That’s an unpopular idea for people across the political spectrum, especially when the billionaire is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose controversial actions make him distrusted by Left and Right.
Yet that’s what happened last November, in Arizona and dozens of other states. Zuckerberg and his wife gave $350 million to a supposedly “nonpartisan” nonprofit, the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), which in turn re-granted the money to thousands of local government election offices across America, including nine of Arizona’s 15 counties.
Details aren’t easy to come by, because CTCL has refused to answer questions from the New YorkTimes, the Associated Press, National Public Radio, and others. Despite CTCL declaring grants were meant to offset unforeseen expenses due to COVID-19, reports show that only a tiny fraction of the monies typically went to things like Personal Protective Equipment. CTCL cared much more about financing liberally placed drop boxes around each county and how many foreign languages ads would appear in.
That’s because CTCL’s leaders are experts in every trick in the Left’s handbook of juicing turnout in the locales and demographics that help their preferred political party. CTCL’s founders all came from another group, now defunct: the New Organizing Institute. Unlike CTCL, which is a so-called 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit that’s legally required to be nonpartisan, the New Organizing Institute was a 501(c)(4) nonprofit which allowed it more flexibility to meddle in politics. And meddle it did. The Washington Post bluntly called it, “the Democratic Party’s Hogwarts for digital wizardry,” because it spread that party’s state-of-the-art voter turnout techniques.
How similar are CTCL and the New Organizing Institute? So similar that the Capital Research Center posted a quiz with texts from both groups’ websites, to see if readers could tell one from the other. It’s a hard test, because the groups’ missions are essentially the same: turn out voters that will favor their preferred candidates.
Did that happen in November? Yes. The Capital Research Center analyzed state after battleground state to see if there were partisan patterns in CTCL’s funding and the election returns. Again, CTCL’s failure to reveal its funding makes data incomplete, but most states, though apparently not Arizona, saw CTCL’s cash go disproportionately to big cities rich with Democratic votes, like Philadelphia.
The near-universal effect of CTCL’s grants was disproportionately greater turnout for one political party. Here’s how it broke down in Arizona, comparing the votes for president in 2020 versus 2016. All 15 counties increased their votes for both parties, but not at all equally. And both parties saw their votes increase even more in the nine counties CTCL funded than the six counties it did not. Here especially the results were unequal.
For the Republicans, the funded counties’ votes increased by 46% more than the rate at which unfunded counties increased. For Democrats, funded counties’ votes skyrocketed upwards 81% more quickly than they rose in unfunded counties.
That inequality in turnout translated into a lot of votes. Again, both parties had more 2020 votes in those nine CTCL-funded counties. But the additional votes Democrats received there gave them a margin over their opponents of 129,000 votes, or more than ten times the Democrats’ state-wide margin of victory.
The Arizona legislature is considering a bill that would ban private funding of county election offices, and we both testified on it. We understand why counties always like possible extra funds, but CTCL’s 2020 scheme raises the question whether Arizona’s elections will be fair if they’re controlled by billionaires instead of the people’s elected representatives.