Chairman Steil's full opening statement as prepared for delivery:
Today, we will examine the influence private funding has on the administration of our nation’s elections.
Secure elections require proper election administration.
Americans deserve to have confidence in our elections. Which means elections should be free from undue private influence.
In recent years, we have seen millions of dollars in private money flow unchecked to states and local governments’ elections offices.
Unlike political contributions, these funds are unregulated in many cases.
“Zuckerbucks”, a shorthand term for the private funding provided to states and localities beginning with the 2020 election has sowed distrust in our elections.
In the fall of 2020, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan contributed $350 million in tax-exempt funds to the Center for Tech and Civic Life.
The couple also gave $70 million to the Center for Election Innovation and Research.
In turn, these groups sent multi-million-dollar checks to States and localities for their election administration efforts.
Publicly, CTCL said these funds were intended to support poll worker recruitment efforts or the purchase of new equipment.
But in reality, some of these funds were used primarily for voter registration events and get-out-the-vote efforts in Democrat-leaning cities and counties.
In my home state of Wisconsin, Zuckerbucks have sowed distrust in our elections.
Let’s take a look at one example.
In 2022, in Southeast Wisconsin, a “Mobile Voting Van” traveled around Racine, a historically Democratic city, to meet voters and collect early ballots.
Racine election administrators used Zuckerbucks to buy what looks like a food truck, called it the Clerk’s Office, then drove it around to collect ballots in high propensity Democrat areas.
Wisconsin citizens complained that the City’s use of the van was illegal under WI law, risked opportunities for voter fraud, and was used to advantage Democrats.
Now, just last month, a judge ruled this practice was illegal.
Wisconsin voters are concerned about undue private influence on the administration of our elections.
Elections are partisan, but election administration should never be partisan.
The millions of private dollars being funneled to local election offices raises serious questions about the conditions placed on their use.
Imagine in Sunday night’s Super Bowl if the refs were paid by a tech billionaire in San Francisco.
How do you think that Taylor Swift and Kansas City fans would be react to that?
I don’t think they would be okay with that.
This wouldn’t instill confidence in the game.
The same goes for our election administration.
Undue private influence distorts Americans’ confidence.
Zuckerbucks distort Americans’ confidence in our elections.
Since 2020, 27 states have recognized this problem and prohibited private funding of election administration.
In my home state of WI, measures to stop Zuckerbucks were passed in both 2021 and 2022, but Governor Evers vetoed those efforts.
Mark Zuckerberg has said his 2020 donation was a “one time thing”.
But left-wing groups like CTCL continue their partisan efforts.
Today, we see the Center for Tech and Civic Life is in the midst of a five-year, $80 million program called the “U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence.”
The new program has committed to distributing millions of dollars over the next five years to several states.
There’s a liberal bucket of states including California, Connecticut, Illinois.
They’re also going to states such as Nevada, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
I ask my colleagues—Do these states ring a bell?
I’ll give you a hint: They’re key presidential swing states that haven’t banned Zuckerbucks.
Why don’t we see Pennsylvania, a key swing state, on this list?
Their Democrat governor signed a Zuckerbucks ban into law.
Even some Democrats realize this is a problem.
In Congress, I have a solution to prevent undue private influence in election administration.
That’s why this Committee passed the American Confidence in Elections Act, which includes Rep. Claudia Tenney’s End Zuckerbucks Act.
This legislation would end the special federal tax treatment for organizations like the Center for Tech and Civic Life—and their donors—that seek to influence election administration.
And we have released the model State ACE Act, a toolkit of model state legislation for the States to consider.
This toolkit includes strong reforms to prevent undue private influence in election administration by banning donations directly to local election offices.
Today, I look forward to hearing from each of our witnesses who have written and researched the role Zuckerbucks and private funding can have on election administration and drawing attention to what steps Congress and our state legislatures must take to resolve this crisis of confidence.?