30 of 56 Montana Counties Including Missoula Granted Zuckerberg Money for Elections, Legislature Investigating
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Last October, over 2,500 election offices across the country received undisclosed sums of money from the Mark Zuckerberg-funded Center for Tech & Civic Life (CTCL). The organization was funded by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, to the tune of $350 million. Money sent to local election offices was reportedly given to, “cover expenses like personal protective equipment, additional election worker recruitment and training, and absentee voting equipment and supplies,” according to the organization’s website.
According to an Epoch Times report, cities and counties who made grant applications and accepted money from CTCL were made to agree to run their elections in certain ways in order to receive funds:
In exchange for the money, elections divisions agreed to conduct their elections according to conditions set out by the CTCL, which is led by former members of the New Organizing Institute, a training center for progressive groups and Democratic campaigns.
Facebook, with the CTCL, was also part of the effort, providing a guide and webinar for election officials on how to engage voters. Included were directions to report “voter interference” to Facebook authorities. The company also provided designated employees in six regions of the U.S. to handle questions. Together, the groups strategically targeted voters and waged a voter assistance campaign aimed at low-income and minority residents who typically shun election participation, helping Democratic candidates win key spots all over the U.S.How Zuckerberg Millions Paid for Progressives to Work With 2020 Vote Officials Nationwide
Recently, The Foundation for Government Accountability, a government watchdog group, found that Zuckerberg’s fund distribution was heavily weighted toward increasing turnout in blue counties versus red counties. According to the analysis, the CTCL gave about four times more in the Zuckerberg-financed grants to blue counties in the Georgia run-off elections as it gave to red counties.
Data from CTCL shows that 30 of 56 Montana counties including Missoula County (Montana’s “bluest” county) were provided with CTCL grant money. On October 6th, 2020, Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman received approval from the Board of County Commissioners for an agreement with CTCL for grant money in the amount of $312,818. We sent a message to Missoula County Elections office for documentation of agreements with CTCL in addition to details regarding fund-related expenditures. We will update readers if and when the county election office responds.
Rep. Brad Tschida (HD 97) has sent an email to the Secretary of State to inquire further regarding the funds and their use in the 2020 General Election. Depending on the grant conditions set by CTCL, there may be a conflict of interest with the constitutional authority of the Montana State Legislature to determine “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections.”
In county election officials emails obtained in Milwaukee, CTCL Grants Team notified Milwaukee County Elections Administrator Claire Woodall-Vogg that “per the terms and conditions of your grant agreement, a final report is to be submitted no later than July 31, 2021.” We will also ask the elections office for this report.
During the 2020 General Election, former Governor Steve Bullock allowed counties like Missoula to mail ballots to everyone on the voter rolls under the guise of an emergency despite challengers finding that existing voting standards already provided for safe voting during the Governor’s declared state of emergency.
Missoula County Elections made national headlines earlier this year after an audit found that 6.33% of the ballots cast in Missoula County in the 2020 election did not have matching signature envelopes, a state election law requirement, making it illegal to count those votes. When asked by a lawyer for the audit group what happened, Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman reportedly “appeared extremely nervous and had no explanation.” Community members are organizing to pressure a full audit of the county.
State Legislatures across the country including from Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin have sent delegations to Arizona to tour ongoing election audit proceedings considered to be the “gold standard” by visiting legislators. A similar election audit could happen in Missoula County.
The full list of Montana counties receiving Zuckerberg funds: Anaconda-Deer Lodge, Blaine, Cascade, Custer, Daniels, Gallatin, Glacier, Hill, Jefferson, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Liberty, Madison, Missoula, Phillips, Pondera, Powell, Prairie, Ravalli, Sanders*, Sheridan, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Teton, Toole, Valley, Wheatland, Wibaux, Yellowstone.
Update: June 10th, 3pm: Post updated to reflect the agreement struck by Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman with CTCL in the amount of $312,818 approved by the Board of County Commissioners October 6, 2020.
*Update: June 12, 10am: Sanders County Clerk Recorder Nichol Scribner has disputed the CTCL’s inclusion of Sanders County in the above spreadsheet provided by CTCL. Scribner told Missoula County Tyranny that though the County did apply, they rejected the offer of $5,335 in CTCL grant funds. “It was very unclear when this grant money became available who was funding,” she told us. Scribner provided emails to confirm Sanders County’s decision to not accept CTCL funds.