FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 29, 2023
Legislation prompted by DeKalb County’s illegal 2023 grant
Washington, D.C. – The Georgia General Assembly today passed anti-corruption legislation which would help enforce the state’s 2021 ban on the private financing of local election offices by ideological groups, corporations, Big Tech companies, and possible foreign interlopers. S.B. 222, which was prompted after the scheme commonly referred to as ‘Zuckerbucks’ resurfaced earlier this year in DeKalb County, initially passed out of the Senate on March 3.
In May 2022, county officials including Board of Registration & Elections Chair Dele Lowman Smith, Deputy Finance Director Preston Stephens, and others secretly submitted DeKalb’s 2023 grant application to circumvent state law, keeping it hidden from the board for the next nine months.
In a February 7 memo, the Election Transparency Initiative (ETI) first urged action to address the illegal DeKalb County grant. The memo, which was addressed to Attorney General Chris Carr, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, State Election Board Chair William Duffey, the General Assembly, and others, requested immediate oversight and accountability to avert repeat privatization of Georgia’s elections.
ETI conducted a comprehensive grassroots education and outreach campaign to help bring awareness to this issue.
National Chairman of the Election Transparency Initiative and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued the following statement:
“We applaud the General Assembly and are grateful for the leadership of Senator Max Burns for taking this critical step to protect the integrity of our elections. Schemes to privatize our elections have no place in Georgia or anywhere else and undermine the confidence of voters who have doubts about the legitimacy and accuracy of our elections and whether they were conducted with fairness and honesty. We urge Governor Kemp to sign S.B. 222 into law without delay.
“Make no mistake, DeKalb County attempted to kick the doors in on the state’s 2021 ban with its $2 million get-out-the-vote grant for partisan voter turnout. This legislation boldly proclaims that CTCL, the deceptively named U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, and their allies can and should be halted. Everyone should be expected to play by the same set of rules—not be rewarded for attempting to violate the law.
“We urge state agencies currently investigating DeKalb County and the evasive maneuvers undertaken to circumvent the law, avert detection and punishment to ensure complete transparency by appropriately making their findings available to the public. The trust and confidence voters deserve won’t be achieved without a full, publicly released report upon conclusion of the investigation.”
Importantly, S.B. 222 stipulates that private election funds like those solicited and accepted by DeKalb County shall “constitute a felony, and upon conviction shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one year and by a fine of not less than $10,000.00.”
Citing a spokesman for secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, Fox News previously reported that there is “an active investigation at the direction of the State Elections Board.” The Georgia State Election Board also confirmed that an investigator has been assigned. Raffensperger later said that DeKalb county’s recent acceptance of the private funds “is a violation of S.B. 202 … The legislative intent of S.B. 202 was to preclude any outside organizations from sending, directly, money to counties for election purposes.”
The Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) and a coalition of left-wing organizations are attempting to circumvent Georgia law through the newly formed front group, the deceptively-named U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. The “Alliance” is designed to systematically influence every aspect of election administration, offering local election offices an extensive portfolio of grants, trainings, resources, and consulting services. In January it was announced that the Alliance selected DeKalb County Voter Registration & Elections for an initial grant award of $2 million.
In 2021, Governor Kemp and the General Assembly enacted the “Election Integrity Act of 2021” (S.B. 202), comprehensive election integrity legislation which prohibits local election officials from accepting private non-public monies. The move came after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, gave hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to nonprofits, including CTCL, which then funneled that money to thousands of election jurisdictions in 48 states and Washington, D.C. under the guise of “election administration” during the 2020 election cycle.
The funds from CTCL and their coalition allies were strategically directed into Democrat-leaning jurisdictions at a rate of 2:1 during the 2020 cycle. In fact, Georgia was one of the biggest recipients of these funds, ultimately receiving one of the largest allocations in the nation at more than $45 million, despite the state accounting for just 3.2 percent of the nation’s population.
The Election Transparency Initiative, a partnership between the American Principles Project (APP) and Susan B. Anthony (SBA) Pro-Life America was organized to combat federal H.R. 1 and H.R. 4 legislation and advocate for state-based election reforms that voters can trust.
Photo Credit: AP/Jeff Chiu