Phil McGrane Dances with Zuckerbucks
Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane took nearly $500,000 from Mark Zuckerberg’s Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) during the 2020 elections. Ada County used these so-called Zuckerbucks to register voters, to process absentee ballots, and to man the polls in November.
Zuckerberg’s CTCL directed over $350 million to heavily Democrat counties to help “safely serve every voter” during the so-called COVID pandemic. Nevertheless, in most cases, “voter safety” (i.e., masks and disinfectants) was not the issue. CTCL used safety as a cover for efforts to register almost exclusively Democrat voters so that close elections would go to the Democrats.
Zuckerbucks affected races at the top of the ticket. According to NPR, Zuckerbucks flowed especially into Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona—states crucial to Joe Biden’s effort to unseat Pres. Donald Trump. Zuckerbucks had the desired effect. Heavily Democrat counties received more money. The funding helped turn out enough Democrat votes to win the election in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and other states. CTCL funded “vote navigators” to help voters sign up for voting at their front door and to “assist in ballot curing” and “to witness absentee ballot signatures.” Zuckerbucks let to the casting of more absentee ballots.
For instance, in Georgia, funding was unevenly distributed. Trump-voting counties got just under $2 per voter, while Biden-voting counties received over $7 per voter (as detailed in Mollie Hemingway’s book Rigged). Pres. Trump won Georgia by more than five points in 2016. Pres. Trump carried counties that received no Zuckerbucks by a similar 4-5% margin in 2020. Counties that got Zuckerbucks moved, on average, 2.3% toward Biden. Use of absentee ballots in Georgia soared, especially in Biden-voting counties. Ballot curing led to a historically low rate in the rejection of absentee ballots, according to the Georgia Secretary of State.
Zuckerberg was very proud of his efforts. So were his minions, who boasted about “the plot to save democracy” in the pages of Time. Zuckerberg, however, has pledged never to try to save democracy again. His CTCL will not intervene in future elections.
Why did Zuckerbucks flow into Ada County?
McGrane wants Idaho’s citizens to shrug at Zuckerbucks. “All the money was used for very legitimate things,” said McGrane. According to McGrane, Ada County would have been short poll workers or people willing to work processing absentee ballots without the money. It is, as McGrane tells the story, a real plus to have a plugged-in clerk who can ask and receive money from Zuckerberg to run clean, safe elections. How plugged in is McGrane? McGrane asked for just over $200,000, but received nearly a half a million Zuckerbucks. Zuckerberg cares about safety in Ada County more than even those in Ada County!
Such overfunding raises eyebrows. Zuckerbucks helped Ada Democrat candidates through increases in absentee ballots during the 2020. Local races were especially affected.
The hottest races during 2020 were for Ada County Commissioner. Democrats controlled the Ada County Commission at the time. Republicans had organized the “Make Ada Great Again” campaign, hoping to roll back COVID restrictions in Idaho’s most populous county, since it was the County Commission that oversees Central District Health.
Though Republicans won both races, Democrats dominated absentee ballots for Ada County Commissioner. According to the Ada County Clerk website, Diana Lachiondo, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean’s disciple, earned 63.7% of her vote total from absentee ballots, while Democrat Bill Rutherford, got 60.7% from them. Lachiondo ended up losing to Republican Ryan Davidson 50.1%-48.8% out of 250,084 votes cast. The other election between Rod Beck and Rutherford was not as close. Beck got 53.9% of the 248,263 votes.
No one benefited from absentee ballots more than Lachiondo, the most left-wing candidate in the field. Joe Biden only got 61.9% of his vote from absentee ballots. Paulette Jordan, the leftist U.S. Senate candidate, only got 59.7% of her vote from absentee ballots. Perhaps Mayor McLean, the queen of dark money, made a few phone calls to get CTCL to double Ada County’s grant in order to save Diana Lachiondo’s seat. Whatever happened, Phil McGrane obliged.
What if all the effort put into “Making Ada Great Again” had been wasted by Phil McGrane taking Zuckerbucks? It nearly was.
Worries about election integrity always come too late. The Zuckerbucks program is under fire throughout the country but the deed is done: Joe Biden sits in the White House. Another scheme will be coming when another close election looms. Democrat money will come in to “save democracy” again.
A Secretary of State is among the most important preservers of election integrity against the coming schemes to undermine free and fair elections. The fact that McGrane took Zuckerbucks shows his willingness to allow forces undermining election integrity elsewhere to get a toehold in Idaho.