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Monday, December 5, 2022

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An effort to end ‘dark money’ donations


In 2020, Michigan used money given by billionaire Mark Zuckerberg to finance an election scheme. Now with Dan Ryan et al. v. Jocelyn Benson, the Thomas More Society is in court trying to get Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to stop accepting private funds to help with elections in The Great Lakes State.

“In Michigan, the amount of Zuckerberg funding was tremendous,” Thomas More Society attorney Erick Kaardal reports about 2020. “It was over $20 million, and $12 million went to a nonprofit that was controlled by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.”

Kaardal continues to explain that the money was used to intentionally influence voting behavior in urban areas, thus increasing Democrat votes over Republican votes at the direction of the Democrat secretary of state.

The legal complaint alleges that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, injected hundreds of millions of dollars into the 2020 presidential election throughout the country intending to influence its outcome. He “donated” funds to a tax-exempt organization called the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), which then made “grants” to local election officials.

In Michigan, these funds went predominantly (at least 84%—likely much more) to jurisdictions that cast ballots for Joe Biden over Donald Trump, and because the funds were channeled through a “charity” and characterized as “grants,” Zuckerberg’s “donations” were not covered by campaign finance laws. Instead, they were unlimited and unregulated “dark money.”

Kaardal, Erick (Thomas More Society) Kaardal

“When Center for Tech and Civic Life, Zuckerberg’s nonprofit, gave the money to Michigan cities, very Democratic cities, they agreed to the Center for Tech and Civic Life’s program for spending the money,” the attorney details. “The money was to be spent on targeting communities to increase the vote by increasing both absentee and in-person voting opportunities.”

With this election integrity lawsuit, the Thomas More Society wants to ensure there is not a repeat of the state-sponsored campaigning in future elections, including this November or in 2024.

“24 states have banned private money in public election administration,” Kaardal reports. “So, if Zuckerberg were to make the same gift today that he made two years ago, he’d be committing crimes in 24 states.”

The complaint asks the court to enter an injunction preventing public officials or public entities from illegally accepting such private funding.



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