A group directly linked to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg donated nearly $5.6 million to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office last year.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (pictured above, left) spent that money on the 2020 presidential election.
That Zuckerberg-linked group, the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR), donated the money. With it, Raffensperger and his staff carried out a variety of tasks, according to the CEIR website.
The Georgia Star News contacted Raffensperger’s communications staff Monday for comment. Raffensperger Spokesman Walter Jones, in his emailed response, took a dig at this publication.
“Any grant or funding source, as allowed by Georgia law, has enabled this and local elections offices to combat disinformation similar to recent articles published by this outlet that undermine the confidence of Georgia voters,” Jones said referring to the events of last year.
The Georgia Star News did not debut until November 2020, and only after Election Day.
As Breitbart News reported, Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan donated $419 million to two non-profit groups that provided controversial private funding to state, county, and municipal governments for election administration in the 2020 presidential election. $350 million of Zuckerberg’s money went to the Center for Technology and Civic Life, which spent at least $24 million in key Georgia counties. $69 million went to the Center for Election Innovation and Research, which privately funded state level operations through Secretary of State offices in 23 states, including $13 million in Pennsylvania, $11 million in Michigan, $5.6 million in Georgia, and $4 million in Arizona – four key battleground states that U.S. President Joe Biden narrowly won.
Jones did not specifically describe how Raffensperger spent the money — but the CEIR website did.
“Georgia used CEIR grant funds in both the November general election and January runoff election to encourage voters to apply for a ballot online,” the CEIR website said.
“This approach sped up the process for both voters and election officials while also making it easier to track application status. Georgia also used the funds to counteract disinformation, issuing public service announcements warning voters of disinformation and encouraging them to report fraud to the Secretary of State hotline.”
In a follow-up comment, Jones added, “Having the Secretary of State’s office accept this funding and distribute the benefits fairly around the state — rather than having donations go to the donor’s preferred county elections boards — was endorsed by the Republican legislature as part of SB 202.”
According to the CEIR website, group members initiated a Voter Education Grant Program “to provide nonpartisan, accurate, and official voting information to the public.” The website said the COVID-19 pandemic increased demand for this service.
“Due to the generous support of Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, CEIR awarded every state the entire amount each requested,” the CEIR website said.
“In total, we provided states nearly $65 million, which they used to bolster their voter education efforts in a variety of ways.”
Raffensperger announced the partnership with CEIR in a press release. The press release is undated. Members of Raffensperger’s staff presumably published it last year. In that press release, Raffensperger praised the CEIR staff as “the greatest minds that the country has to offer” and, because of that, he said Georgia could have a secure and reliable paper-ballot system.
CEIR Executive Director David Becker (pictured above, right) has a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from the University of Berkeley in California. Becker also serves as CBS News’ election law expert, according to his LinkedIn page.
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