The Wisconsin Republican Party is trying to expose private entities’ financial involvement in America’s democratic processes, the state’s party director has said.
In an exclusive interview with The Epoch Times, Wisconsin GOP Executive Director Mark Jefferson said the party is trying to raise awareness to the influence of “Zuckerbucks” in Wisconsin’s recent elections and restore voter confidence during its current nine-city election integrity roundtables with the public.
“We think conversations lead to more involvement, which is going to lead to more confidence in the system,” Jefferson said, referring to the election integrity events, that have featured training and recruitment sessions for current and prospective poll workers.
“Right now, in addition to recruiting people to be poll observers and poll workers, we want people to know [about] some of the problems we’ve encountered in the past from the Zuckerbucks that we’ve had, especially in places like Racine and Green Bay, and really, in all the major cities in Wisconsin.”
By “Zuckerbucks,” Jefferson is referring to the donations from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, to election offices across the country that funded official government vote-counts during the 2020 elections. The couple made $419.5 million in donations to nonprofits, $350 million of which went to the Safe Elections Project of the left-wing Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL).
The most recent investigation on the use of “Zuckerbucks” in election administration in Wisconsin was conducted by a former justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Michael Gableman, who found more than 200 jurisdictions in Wisconsin to have received “Zuckerbucks” from CTCL during the 2020 election, totaling more than $9 million.
Gableman was heading the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC), which was created in 2021 by the Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, to investigate allegations of election fraud during the 2020 presidential election.
An advisor that CTCL sent to Green Bay, Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, allegedly allowed unqualified individuals to help administer the 2020 election and offered assistance with “curing ballots,” according to local clerk Kris Teske, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Another advisor CTCL made available to Green Bay, according to WSJ, was from the left-leaning think tank Brenna Center for Justice that says it supports “Democratic legal and election causes.”
Jefferson said that many on the left were “upset about billionaires putting money” in election campaigns before the 2020 election cycle.
But that attitude is very different to how they approached the election in 2020.
“Now, all of a sudden, they’re just fine with billionaires putting money into our election administration and actually helping finance the counting of the votes,” the director said.
“So that’s what we’re trying to bring light … to that issue, and push for legislative changes and pass bills to prohibit it.”
Jefferson said the security of the 2020 election was subject to concern due to “exacerbated” irregularities caused by record early voting numbers and chaos surrounding election administration.
“In presidential elections, give or take, we’ll have 25 percent of the electorate voting before Election Day. And this last time, we were well over 50 percent. And so that jumped in one cycle, which in itself makes a difficult problem. But then, when rules aren’t being followed on top of it, you have a very, very sloppy process,” Jefferson noted. “It was a process that a lot of people did not trust, and I think for good reason.”
According to special counsel Gableman’s report, the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) violated numerous laws during the 2020 election, including by issuing directives that allegedly ordered local election officials to disregard state statutes that regulate absentee voting.
The report also alleges that the WEC violated the law by facilitating mentally incompetent nursing home residents, noncitizens, and ineligible felons to vote.
Gableman’s investigation is currently on pause, amid several legal battles.
In their efforts to improve election integrity, Jefferson said that Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature have been trying to pass legislation, such as a bill banning the use of private funds in election administration. However, the proposals were ultimately vetoed by the state’s Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
So Republican-dominated counties have now taken up the issue to hold their own referendums on whether to ban “Zuckerbucks.” So far, Walworth County has successfully passed the ban.
Jefferson said that the 2022 Wisconsin GOP platform, which the party plans to release in the next few days, will feature Republican themes similar to its 2020 platform. He said the resolutions accompanying the platform would dive deeper into the issues of the day, of which election integrity is top of the list.
Matthew Vadum and Steven Kovac contributed to this report.
UPDATE: This article has been updated to include detail on the Office of the Special Counsel.