Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat who wants communities in her state to continue accepting private funding for election administration, is trying for the third time to have a lawsuit challenging the practice thrown out.
The legal controversy arose after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife gave $419.5 million to left-wing activist groups during the 2020 election cycle, purportedly to ease the strain on election systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of these “Zuck bucks,” as some call the money, $350 million went to the Safe Elections Project of the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), which in turn used the money for grants to sympathetic groups, according to the Thomas More Society’s Amistad Project.
The Thomas More Society is a national, not-for-profit public interest law firm; the project “works to preserve civil liberties in a time of great national challenge,” according to the society.
Amistad Project director Phill Kline, the former Republican attorney general of Kansas, said in a report that Zuckerberg’s funding “dictated city and county election management” and in the process violated federal law and state legislature-endorsed election plans.
In addition, “executive officials in swing states facilitated, through unique and novel contracts, the sharing of private and sensitive information about citizens within those states with private interests, some [of] whom actively promote leftist candidates and agendas.”
This sharing of data “allowed direct access to data of unique political value to leftist causes, and created new vulnerabilities for digital manipulation of state electronic poll books and counting systems and machines.”
The lawsuit, Ryan v. Benson, is before Michigan’s Court of Claims. Benson, the defendant, tried and failed on two previous occasions to have the lawsuit dismissed.
On Feb. 14, the plaintiffs filed a response (pdf) to Benson’s latest motion for summary disposition, arguing that the motion should be denied because discovery is not yet complete and “remains open until the end of March,” according to the court’s scheduling order. CTCL, which required grant monies “to be used, among other purposes, to purchase remote, unattended ballot boxes that violated Michigan law and facilitated mail-in voting and ballot harvesting,” has not yet provided full responses, the plaintiffs said in the response.