Zuckerberg’s money could affect DeSantis’ re-election campaign
Millions of Mark Zuckerberg-funded election grants to Democratic-leaning South Florida counties awarded last year will likely carry over to the 2022 election, when Gov. Ron DeSantis is on the ballot for re-election.
Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, and his wife Priscilla Chan funded $ 350 million for Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) grants to jurisdictions with the stated goal of making elections safer during the COVID-pandemic. 19. At least two large jurisdictions have not spent all the money and will use it for future elections, according to an analysis by the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a government watchdog.
Palm Beach County got one of the largest grants in the state, at $ 6.8 million. Most of the election equipment on the county’s wishlist was purchased with the funding, but some of the money was not spent, said Wendy Sartory Link, Palm Beach County election supervisor.
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âOur initial understanding of the grant was that it was to be used for 2020, so we didn’t spend all the money,â Link told Fox News.
âWe are now getting permission from CTCL to finalize the purchases. So to answer your question, part would be for 2021, 2022, because some of this equipment we haven’t been able to get on time – Whether it’s the equipment or the firewall, some of the security or computer security programs have not been implemented, âLink continued.
âWe knew we wouldn’t have time to get them in as it turned out for 2020. So we didn’t buy them because we wanted to make sure we stayed within the definition of the grant, which in the end. ‘era was for 2020. We have since gotten clearance for these now, so they are in this process for some equipment and some computer programs. “
The Public Interest Legal Foundation will release a full report on Florida in May, but early data shows CTCL funds were heavily concentrated in South Florida counties and arrived in September and October.
The Florida legislature is considering an electoral reform bill that includes a provision to prohibit local governments from accepting money from private entities for election administration. The traditionally red states of Georgia and Arizona that Joe Biden wore in 2020 have already passed similar bans on private money this year. Donald Trump wore Florida in 2020.
The Palm Beach County grant arrived on September 30, just over a month before the November election. The legal foundation did not get the amount of unspent money Palm Beach had available as of 2020, and the county did not provide the exact amount of money remaining to Fox News on Wednesday night.
Miami-Dade County received an approved $ 2.4 million grant on Oct. 15 and has spent none for 2020. In a Jan. 20 grant extension request, Miami-Dade County said that he had not spent any part of his grant. money, according to documents obtained by the legal foundation. A Feb. 4 email from the CTCL to the Miami-Dade Election Office approved a six-month extension of the grant.
âSome counties have not effectively spent any of their funds in 2020. These Zuckerbucks will be targeted to try to defeat DeSantis in 2022,â J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) told Fox News.
DeSantis, a Republican, and GOP Senator Marco Rubio both face re-election contests in 2022. Both have been mentioned as potential presidential candidates in 2024.
Broward County received a total of $ 1.4 million – the most recent in the form of a grant of $ 749,971 on September 29, but all the money was spent, according to PILF data.
Florida was not the epicenter of the impactful grants – as the Arizona and Pennsylvania grants came earlier and likely pushed the Democratic vote, Adams said.
âThis is the biggest problem that changed the 2020 election,â Adams said. “These grants were used for what was in effect a voting campaign in the strongly democratic regions. This is why the elections went the way they did. It was not the Kraken.”
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Based on preliminary figures, the CTCL has given Florida courts at least $ 13.2 million, according to PILF. Grants to other Florida counties included $ 1.4 million for Leon, $ 850,000 for Brevard, $ 707,606 for Alachua, $ 109,404 for Osceola and $ 69,564 for Wakulla County.
CTCL money went to 49 states across 2,500 jurisdictions for election administration to pay for additional polling stations, ballot boxes, âvoter educationâ and other issues amid the pandemic COVID-19.
The CTCL did not respond to Fox News’ inquiries for this story, but in a statement for a previous story, it said the organization was non-partisan and the grants did not favor either party.
âAll local election offices responsible for administering election activities covered by the CTCL COVID-19 Response grant program were eligible to apply for grant funds,â the CTCL’s previous statement to Fox News read.
The center has roots in the Democratic Party. Iy was founded in 2012 by Tiana Epps-Johnson – Group Executive Director – Donny Bridges and Whitney May. The three had previously worked together at the New Organizing Institute, a Democrat-aligned digital strategy firm. Epps-Johnson is a former member of the Obama Foundation.
“In Texas, for example, the facts were clear: 117 Texas state electoral departments applied for and received CTCL COVID-19 response grants, including 98 in jurisdictions that voted for Donald Trump in 2016,” continues the CTCL press release. “More than half of all grants nationwide went to election services serving fewer than 25,000 registered voters.”
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In late March, the Public Interest Legal Foundation released a report examining the organization’s $ 36 million in grants to Texas jurisdictions, which determined the money was going disproportionately to Blue Counties. The analysis concluded that if the Texas election was limited only to jurisdictions obtaining CTCL grants, Biden would have won the state by around 270,000 votes.
While most of the Center for Tech and Civic Life’s money came from Zuckerberg and Chan, other large donors included mostly left-wing organizations like the Democracy Fund, John S., and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, according to the Capital Research Center.