South Dakota Governor Signs Bill Banning Outside Funding for Elections, Citing Mark Zuckerberg’s Spree

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South Dakota’s governor on March 16 signed legislation into law that bans government entities from accepting outside funding to run elections.

Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, said the bill was necessary because of how Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife donated some $350 million ahead of the 2020 election to various organizations, which funneled the money to state and local officials to run the election in certain ways.

Wisconsin Special Counsel Michael Gableman asserted in a recent report that what unfolded in his state amounted to “election bribery” because cities that accepted the grants were forced to abide by conditions set by the grantee, an intermediary for Zuckerberg’s money called the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL).

South Dakota Senate Bill 122 takes aim at such outside spending, mandating all costs relating to an election be paid by the county through appropriated funds that come only from the government, except for gifts of a “nominal and intrinsic value.”

The legislation bans “situations like we saw with ‘Zuck Bucks’ that came in, and a billionaire gave millions of dollars into our election system, which we believe tainted the integrity of it,” Noem said after signing the bill.

“In South Dakota, we recognize the important work of protecting our election laws, that we don’t want outside private dollars influencing that, and it’s incredibly important that we pass laws like this to make sure that’s upheld,” she added.

Counties in South Dakota received over $250,000 from CTCL “to support the safe administration of public elections during the COVID-19 pandemic” ahead of the 2020 election, according to a tax filing.

A spokesman for Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, told The Epoch Times in an email, “When our nation’s election infrastructure faced unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic, Mark and Priscilla stepped up to close a funding gap and granted $350 million to the Center for Tech and Civic Life and $69.5 million to the Center for Election Innovation and Research, non-partisan, 501 (c)(3) organizations.”

By Zachary Stieber

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