Commentary: The Left’s Ridiculous Disinformation on Tainted Zuck Bucks

Zuck Bucks
by Hayden Ludwig


Anyone who’s followed the Mark Zuckerberg “Zuck bucks” story since 2020 has witnessed some spectacular acrobatics from the left.

First, it was denial that a partisan billionaire was trying to privatize the election in swing states. Then, when Democrats unseated President Trump, NPR and others praised Zuck bucks for “saving” the election. When the 2022 midterms came, the cry was for more private funding to “rehabilitate” democracy. Now the media’s latest stop: gaslighting the public into believing any criticism of leftist “dark money” is just conservative propaganda, rather than one of the worst election innovations of our time.

That’s what we gather from a shoddy hit piece by the Arizona Daily Sun, at any rate. Like the rest of the legacy media, the Sun appears more interested in propagandizing a newfound Democrat policy—letting opaque special interests pay the people who count our ballots—than pointing out the obvious threat to free elections it poses.

This writer has been reporting on the scheme since the beginning. So here are the facts about Zuck bucks, the Center for Tech and Civic Life, and the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence you won’t get from the professional left.

The Blueprint

In the midst of 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic, billionaire Facebook founder and Democrat mega-donor Mark Zuckerberg routed $350 million to the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), a little-known Chicago nonprofit whose founders were previously engaged in Democrat get-out-the-vote work.

CTCL then funneled that cash to thousands of local election offices in the form of COVID “relief” grants to boost mail-in voting, absentee ballot processing, unmonitored ballot drop boxes, and related items.

If using private funds to pay for government operations sounds illegal, it is in 27 states… but only after this scheme was over and done. Before 2020, no one had ever tried it, so there were no laws in place blocking CTCL’s plan. Talk about a “dark money” loophole.

The left points out that these “Zuck bucks” flowed to both Trump and Biden counties. They did, but not in equal amounts. When I authored the first reports on Zuck bucks in nine battleground states in early 2021, a clear pattern emerged: On a per-person (per capita) basis, these grants always overwhelmingly flowed to Democratic vote-rich cities like Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, not to Trump counties.

Take Wisconsin, where 90 percent of the $10 million CTCL bundled statewide went to 20 cities, all of which voted for Joe Biden. Per person, CTCL grants averaged just $0.55 in Trump counties versus $3.75 in Biden counties. That was probably enough to give the state to Biden, considering his margin in Wisconsin was 20,682 votes.

Or there’s Arizona, where 76 percent of the $5.1 million CTCL gave flowed to Biden counties (particularly Maricopa) compared with 13 percent to Trump counties. Per person, those grants averaged $2.16 in Trump counties versus $3.47 in Biden counties. Joe Biden’s margin statewide was even smaller here—just 10,457 votes.

This was uniformly the case in blue counties (big cities) in Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Nevada, and Virginia. See a pattern starting to emerge?

Far from being “nonpartisan,” as the left-wing press claims, Zuck bucks flowed to precisely the spots Democrats needed to boost voter turnout enough to win an Electoral Vote majority. Put another way, if CTCL was distributing its turnout grants strategically to help Biden, its strategy would’ve looked identical to the “nonpartisan” one the left defends.

It’s no surprise, then, that House Republicans later demanded to know why less than 1 percent of CTCL’s “COVID” grants paid for personal protective equipment. Far from helping all Americans vote, this was a cynical effort to help the left’s preferred voters cast a ballot.

The Quiet Takeover

Fast forward to 2022 and CTCL’s new project: the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, a coalition of “progressive” policy shops headed by CTCL to “fortify” our election offices. One of them is the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, a front for the largest “dark money” machine in the world, headed by the infamous Arabella Advisors.

Another is the Elections Group, a consulting firm run by two ex-Democrat county election officials—one of whom hails from that bastion of untainted elections, Chicago—to expand vote-by-mail and implement CTCL-style drop boxes.

Similarly, the Center for Civic Design aims to remake our ballots to make them easier for likely Democratic voters to read—think non-native English speakers, recent immigrants, and DEI-indoctrinated Millennials. Conveniently, it also recommends making vote-by-mail permanent everywhere.

All of these groups work in tandem through the alliance for a common goal: radically transform U.S. elections to suit Democrats’ needs.

That means staffing government election offices with pawns trained by the left, using procedures devised by the left, mailing ballots drafted by the left, targeting voters identified by the left—and completely funded by the left.

Don’t take my word for it; we have it in writing. In 2023, the Honest Elections Project revealed alliance documents in North Carolina that show a sophisticated quid-pro-quo scheme to permanently embed their member groups in county election operations. By offering “credits” redeemable for member “services,” the alliance skirts the Zuck buck bans passed after 2020. From the excellent report:

CTCL offers substantial grants which, contrary to CTCL’s own public statements, come with significant restrictions . . . In exchange for grants and services, officials are expected to provide CTCL and partners with in-kind contributions at taxpayers’ expense. The Alliance even provides talking points that officials can use to dismiss public concerns over participation in the scheme [emphasis added].

(Critically, those two counties identified in the report—Brunswick and Forsyth—have since announced they’re withdrawing from the alliance, as of January 2024.)

Contrast that with the Sun’s glowing coverage of the innocuous alliance. Coconino County Recorder Patty Hansen, a Democrat, said with the assistance of the Center for Civic Design, they are working to make those notices more understandable and accessible for voters, eliminating “legalese” that might only confuse a voter.

. . . Hansen said the offices pay for all the services they use through the Alliance—as they would with any other contractor or consultant. “It’s sad that they think there’s this big conspiracy going on, when what we’re trying to do is to help the citizens in our county and the voters. . .” she said.

What “legalese” she means is unclear. What is certain is that Coconino County is a Democratic stronghold that gave nearly 18,000 votes to Joe Biden in 2020 and was one of the jurisdictions to join the alliance in late 2022 at Hansen’s request. According to the Federalist, that application required Hansen to disclose “the size of [her] elections team, any ‘improvement’ the office would like to make ahead of future elections, and ‘[h]ow much additional funding would make a meaningful difference’ in altering office operations, among other information.”

Later, Hansen divulged the election office’s “current practices around poll workers”—an amazing revelation given Hansen’s complaints of supposed conservative threats to poll workers in the Sun story. Then the alliance helpfully redesigned Coconino County’s 2024 voter guide and mailers to local voters. The membership fees and Hansen’s travel costs for alliance events were paid by county taxpayers.

Democrat Disinformation

It’s not hard to imagine the media uproar if a conservative group offered ballot redesign services via phony “credits” to government election offices. Unlike leftists, most Americans understand that it’s important to keep undue partisan influence out of these agencies.

Amazingly, though, left-wing outlets like the Sun would have you believe this is normal, even ideal, rather than a sign of American decline into corrupt plutocracy. All “‘left-wing’ allegation[s]” from conservatives are a seedy effort by “some politicians [i.e. Trump] to sow doubt as to the validity of elections,” the newspaper gravely observes. Patty Hansen breathlessly agrees.

What Americans should be worried about is hooking government officials on private money from partisan interests or the threat of foreign oligarchs warping election outcomes through nonprofit funds. CTCL is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose donors enjoy anonymity under the First Amendment; there’s no law preventing, say, a Chinese or Russian oligarch from funding CTCL and influencing Coconino County’s election procedures. Is that what we want in the future?

For elected Democrats, the apparent answer is “yes.” Why is it, for instance, that Wisconsin Gov. Tony (Evers) vetoed not one, but two Republican bills banning private funding for elections? When you know the answer, you’ve fingered what’s wrong with the Democratic Party.

– – –

Hayden Ludwig is research director for Restoration of America, which publishes Restoration News.
Photo “Mark Zuckerberg” by Mark Zuckerberg. Background Photo “People Voting” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.





Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact

Related posts