States Want a $20 Billion Federal Top-Off to ‘Zuck Bucks’ for Future Elections But They’re Already Sitting on a Pile

Graffiti of Mark Zuckerberg "You've been zucked"

Drawing on research from a multimillion-dollar Mark Zuckerberg-linked initiative viewed as pivotal in the 2020 presidential election, 14 states carried by Joe Biden have appealed to him for billions of dollars more to secure elections for the next decade. But most of them have spent less than half their shares of previous federal funding to counter alleged Russian election meddling and other “threats” to election security.

The states’ letter to the president cites a report by the Election Infrastructure Initiative, a progressive nonprofit that estimates $53 billion in taxpayer money will be needed to ensure election security over the next decade.

The Election Infrastructure Initiative is an arm of the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which in 2020 distributed nearly $400 million in private grants – $350 million from Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan – to local election offices in 48 states and the District of Columbia for the pandemic-challenged presidential election.

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Small Business Administration Spends $14.8 Million in Questionable Costs for Underutilized Small Business Portal

U.S Small Business Administration

This week’s Golden Horseshoe is awarded to the Small Business Administration for lax oversight of a $25 million grant for the creation of a COVID-19 relief small business portal that ran up $14.8 million in questionable costs for an underutilized hub, according to a report by the agency’s Office of Inspector General.

The SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development (OED) received $25 million through the CARES Act to create a portal to help small businesses during the pandemic. An $18.6 million grant was awarded for the Resource Partner Training Portal program, but the intended results were not achieved. A combination of a failed marketing strategy to let small businesses know of the portal’s existence and unsupported or unallowable invoices led the inspector general to question $14.8 million in costs.

“SBA did not did not ensure the grant recipient developed and implemented an effective marketing and outreach strategy to ensure the hub successfully achieved the legislative purpose of the CARES Act,” Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware stated in the report.

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Universities That Received Billions in COVID Relief Are Still Imposing Delays, Remote Instruction

In 2020, the federal government gave American colleges and universities approximately $14 billion in relief through the CARES Act. As part of the $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package, the CARES Act allocation mandated that approximately half its funds be used for emergency student aid.

Now, nearly two years after President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act in March 2020, numerous institutions that received aid are delaying in-person learning due to the Omicron variant.

By Jan. 7, seven out of 10 University of California campuses announced “revisions to their winter quarter or winter semester plans.” Winter sessions precede the spring semester, which traditionally starts in mid-to-late January.

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Georgia’s COVID Relief Spending Transparency Among the Country’s Best: Report

Georgia was one of six states classified as having exemplary disclosure of its Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) spending, according to a new report on transparency in CRF spending.

The CRF was established from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The act was signed into law by former President Donald Trump in March 2020 and gave states a total of $111.8 billion to cover COVID-19-related costs.

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Georgia One of Only Six States to Adequately Disclose How COVID-19 Relief Money Gets Spent, New Report Reveals

A Washington, D.C.-based group said in a new report that Georgia is one of only six states that do a good job disclosing how they spend COVID-19 relief money. Members of this organization, Good Jobs First, in a report they released Monday, ranked how states spend federal CARES Act money.

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Commentary: Democrat Spending Bill Taxes the Rich and the Poor

“No one got everything they wanted, including me, but that’s what compromise is. That’s consensus. And that’s what I ran on.”

That was President Joe Biden on Oct. 28 unveiling his latest $1.75 trillion spending bill—watered down from $3.5 trillion after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) refused to budge on the topline number—that Congress is expected to vote on this week.

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Commentary: IRS Guidance Would Punish Small Business Owners with Families

Outside of IRS building

Most IRS guidance documents make for poor pleasure reading. Then again, most IRS guidance doesn’t effectively impose a retroactive tax on small business owners merely for having a family. IRS Notice 2021-49, issued on August 4, includes a bizarre interpretation of the law that will effectively raise taxes for business owners with close relatives, even if their family members have no involvement in the company.

A core goal of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed early on in the pandemic was to assist businesses in keeping employees on their payroll even as they dealt with the economic effects of lockdowns. Part of the plan was the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), which provides a tax credit against employer payroll tax liabilities.

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Georgia Defendants Indicted on Federal Charges for Massive Alleged Healthcare Fraud Scheme

Federal officials have indicted certain South Georgia medical professionals for the alleged illegal distribution of opioids and conspiracy to commit health care fraud. This, according to a press release that officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia published Friday.

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Atlanta, Dallas, Tampa, and St. Louis Among the Cities Experiencing the Highest Consumer Price Spikes

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve Bank and Congress have taken unprecedented steps to stabilize the economy after entire industries and sectors ground to a halt last year amidst the public health crisis. The Fed has kept interest rates near zero, created lending programs to pump trillions of dollars into the economy, and bought securities to support financial markets. Congress passed three major COVID-19 stimulus packages in response to the crisis: the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March 2020, the $900 billion Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act in December 2020, and the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in March 2021.

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Southwest Georgia Resident Criminally Charged with CARES Act Fraud

A federal grand jury has returned a 12-count indictment charging a Sycamore, Georgia, resident with bank fraud, money laundering and making false statements related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Officials indicted Anthony C. Boncimino, 46, this month with four counts of bank fraud, four counts of money laundering and four counts of making false statements.

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Feds in Georgia Reveal Massive CARES Act Fraud

Two Georgia residents in two separate cases allegedly committed massive Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act fraud while another Georgia resident admitted in federal court to committing such fraud. In the first case, federal officials took two Columbus residents into custody after a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging them both with wire fraud and theft of government property related to the CARES Act. This, according to a press release that officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia published this week.

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Billions of Coronavirus Stimulus Money Still Hasn’t Been Spent, Republican Senators Say in Letter to Biden

US Capitol

A group of ten Republican senators outlined a less expensive coronavirus relief compromise bill and said much of the past stimulus passed during the pandemic hasn’t been spent yet.

The proposed stimulus framework builds on prior legislation that passed with bipartisan support, the 10 senators wrote in the letter Sunday. The group, which included Sens. Mitt Romney, Thom Tillis, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, also requested a meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss the bill.

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Senator Kelly Loeffler Compares Her Record, Including Passage of New PPP Funding, to Raphael Warnock’s Record

U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler on Friday highlighted the stark contrasts between her record in the successful PPP program and other COVID-19 assistance in the Senate versus her opponent Rev. Raphael Warnock’s PPP record.

Loeffler pointed out the differences in a tweet.

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VA Democrats Want To Issue Mandatory ‘Vaccination Cards’ Costing $121 Million

Virginia plans on spending nearly $121 million on CARES funding for COVID-19 vaccine equipment and advertisement. This according to a proposal draft, reportedly submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week.

Nearly $6 million will be spent on equipment: over $111 million on administration and staffing and $3 million in a “public education campaign.”

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Northam Announces More Money for Closed Schools

Governor Ralph Northam is sending an additional $220 million of Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to Virginia’s schools, according to a Thursday press release. The money is intended to help purchase testing supplies, personal protective equipment, sanitation, and virtual learning technology.

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Commentary: Pelosi Holds Millions of Small Businesses Hostage While Working Families Struggle

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when a lot less was known about the virus and how to counter it, and while the nation was still ramping up production of testing and hospital resources including ventilators needed, 25 million jobs were lost across the country, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Since labor markets bottomed in April, 13.8 million jobs have been recovered, as states have begun steadily reopening in the months since.

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