by Dr. Andy Jackson
Director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity, John Locke Foundation
I spoke today at the General Assembly in favor of S725, entitled “Prohibit Private Money in Elections Admin.” The bill would ban the State Board of Elections and county boards of elections from accepting so-called “Zuck Bucks” from private groups. Much of the money that flowed into boards of elections in North Carolina came indirectly from Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.
Here is my prepared testimony, from which I deviated a bit, during the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee hearing on the bill:
The questions to consider here are whether there was a partisan intent and a partisan effect in the distribution of private election funding in the 2020 general elections in North Carolina. The answer to both questions is “yes.”
Partisan intent: Much of the private election funding in the 2020 election came from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), an advocacy group founded by former employees of the New Organizing Institute, a group that trained digital organizers for Democratic and progressive groups. The Washington Post described the New Organizing Institute as the “Democratic Party’s Hogwarts for digital wizardry.” CTCL received hundreds of millions of dollars from Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, for the 2020 election.
Partisan effect: While CTCL gave to both Democratic-leaning and Republican-leaning counties in North Carolina, the 33 counties that CTCL gave funds backed Democrat Cal Cunningham 52.7% to 47.3%, while the other 67 counties, which were not provided funds, supported Republican Thom Tillis 53.6% to 46.4%. Regardless of whether the partisan bias in CTCL funding during the 2020 election in North Carolina was intentional, it existed.
While privatizing services provided by governments is often beneficial, I think we can agree that privatizing election administration, even partially, is not a good idea.
S725 was once part of S326, here is a link to my analysis of that bill, which includes a link to the Center for Tech and Civic Life from which I got the data presented in my testimony.
The Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee favorably reported S725 by voice vote. Its next stop is the Senate Rules Committee before consideration by the full Senate.