Accepting Zuckerbucks in Georgia is now a felony

by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News May 4, 2023

Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday signed legislation prohibiting local governments in the state from taking donations from nonprofit organizations.

Beginning July 1, the legislation, Senate Bill 222, will make it a felony for election workers or government officials to solicit or accept money to cover the cost of running elections from anyone other than the state or federal government.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

Republicans sought to make these restrictions after the Center for Tech and Civic Life contributed more than $400 million from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to county election offices nationwide in the 2020 election. Georgia offices received $45 million, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The contributions became known as “Zuckerbucks.”

Most of the Zuckerbucks went to Democrat strongholds toward mail-in ballot processing equipment, protective gear for election workers, election staffing, absentee ballot postage costs, and voter outreach.

Former Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, founder of the voter registration organization Greater Georgia, indicated that the bill signed into law by Kemp on Wednesday “builds on previous law to ensure that our election operations are never bought and paid for by partisan or special interests.”

Loeffler was referencing Georgia’s Senate Bill 202, passed in 2021, which barred election officials from accepting outside grants and funding from private organizations.

The Associated Press indicated that despite SB 202, it was previously “widely understood” that individual counties could still accept money from outside groups and funnel those funds over to election administrators.

Related: Georgia Gov. Kemp’s office reluctantly takes delivery of 40,000 election fraud affidavits, February 23, 2022

For instance, in early 2023, the overwhelmingly blue DeKalb County picked up $2 million from the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, which includes Zuckerberg’s go-to funding outfit from 2020.

Senate Bill 222 puts such misunderstandings to bed.

“We should not be seeing partisan outside interests funneling money into counties for one party or another,” Republican state Rep. Houston Gaines said in March, when the SB 222 cleared the House. “It’s common sense to make sure we’re banning outside money in our public elections.”

Georgia will join 23 other states that have prohibited, limited, or regulated private funding in elections since 2020.

The Republican-led General Assembly in Georgia approved broad election modifications in 2021, limiting nonprofit donations but not outright banning them. It also limited absentee ballot drop boxes, required absentee votes to provide additional ID, banned the distribution of food and drinks to voters in line, and allowed state takeovers of county election offices.

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