A group directly linked to Mark Zuckerberg donated nearly $12 million to a Michigan nonprofit to help state residents vote absentee for the 2020 presidential election.
Zuckerberg and his associates donated the money with the blessing of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
That Zuckerberg-linked group, the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR) donated the money, according to the group’s website.
The Michigan Center for Election Law and Administration (MCELA), meanwhile, accepted the donation, according to an undated emailed press release from Benson’s office. The MCELA’s website was down Tuesday evening. The group’s Facebook page was still active, although group members most recently posted in October of last year. Michigan Radio last year identified Jen McKernan as the MCELA president.
According to charitynavigator.org, the MCELA is a 501C3, and the IRS approved its tax exemption in 2010. The group’s Form 990s, according to the website, are not available because the organization files Form 990-N for 501C3’s with less than $50,000 in annual contributions. In essence, the group is simply a 501C3 Corporate shell that had virtually no contributions for 10 years — then got almost $12 million from the Zuckerberg-funded group in 2020.
Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook, and his wife Priscilla Chan donated the money, according to the press release.
“This education initiative will help to ensure that all Michiganders know how to vote absentee from home, early at their clerk’s office, or at their polling place on Election Day, and can do so with confidence that their vote will be counted,” Benson said in last year’s press release.
“The initiative is statewide and will inform Michiganders with advertisements on television, radio and social media, as well as direct mail and responsive text messaging.”
Benson spokeswoman Tracy Wimmer told The Michigan Star Tuesday that CEIR did not donate any money to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office.
CEIR officials, on their website, said Michigan officials spent the money on a statewide messaging campaign and on targeted mailings to engage voters.
“Active registered voters received information about ways to vote, elections deadlines and how to request a mail ballot, and those who had not yet returned their mail ballot received instructions on how to do so,” CEIR officials said.
“Grant funds also helped communicate changes in election laws to voters. According to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, the state’s low rate of ballot rejection this year was directly attributable to CEIR’s voter education grant.”
CEIR officials donated to other states as well. According to the CEIR website, group members initiated a Voter Education Grant Program “to provide nonpartisan, accurate, and official voting information to the public.” The website said the COVID-19 pandemic increased demand for this service.
“Due to the generous support of Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, CEIR awarded every state the entire amount each requested,” the CEIR website said.
“In total, we provided states nearly $65 million, which they used to bolster their voter education efforts in a variety of ways.”
CEIR Executive Director David Becker has a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from the University of Berkeley in California. Becker also serves as CBS News’ election law expert, according to his LinkedIn page.
As The Georgia Star News reported Tuesday, CEIR donated nearly $5.6 million to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office last year. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger spent that money on the 2020 presidential election.
As Breitbart News reported, Zuckerberg and Chan donated $419 million to two non-profit groups that provided controversial private funding to state, county, and municipal governments for election administration in the 2020 presidential election. $350 million of Zuckerberg’s money went to the Center for Technology and Civic Life, which spent at least $24 million in key Georgia counties. $69 million went to the Center for Election Innovation and Research, which privately funded state level operations through Secretary of State offices in 23 states, including $13 million in Pennsylvania, $11 million in Michigan, $5.6 million in Georgia, and $4 million in Arizona – four key battleground states that U.S. President Joe Biden narrowly won.
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