House probes pro-Biden partisan effect of spending by Small Business Administration in Michigan

The committee has found significant overlap between where voter registration has increased and the locations of SBA offices and President Biden’s campaign activities, including the implementation of “Bidenbucks.”

Published: June 3, 2024 11:04pm

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is working with the Michigan Department of State (MDOS) as part of the implementation of “Bidenbucks,” which is President Biden’s executive order to turn as many federal agencies as possible into get-out-the-vote (GOTV) centers across all states. A committee in the House of Representatives is investigating the program and holding a hearing on it Tuesday.

The House Small Business Committee is holding a hearing titled “Weaponizing Federal Resources: Exposing the SBA’s Voter Registration Efforts” on Tuesday at 10 a.m. E.S.T., during which committee members will discuss the SBA’s implementation of “Bidenbucks” in Michigan. The committee has found significant overlap between where voter registration has increased and the locations of SBA offices and President Biden’s campaign activities.

In March 2021, Biden signed Executive Order 14019, often referred to by critics as “Bidenbucks,” which alludes to "Zuckerbucks," the approximately $400 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg widely alleged to have been funneled through left-leaning nonprofits to turn out the Democratic vote in the 2020 presidential election. 

According to the Executive Order, “The head of each agency shall evaluate ways in which the agency can, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, promote voter registration and voter participation,” including "soliciting and facilitating approved, nonpartisan third-party organizations and State officials to provide voter registration services on agency premises.”

Similar to “Bidenbucks,” “Zuckerbucks" came to notice when the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) poured about $350 million into local elections offices managing the 2020 election, with most of the funds donated to the nonprofit by Zuckerberg. The nonprofit has claimed its 2020 election grants — colloquially known as "Zuckerbucks" — were allocated without partisan preference to make voting safer amid the pandemic.

Instead, a House investigation found that less than 1% of the funds were spent on personal protective equipment. Most of the funds were focused on get-out-the-vote efforts and registrations in largely Democratic neighborhoods.

Following controversy surrounding the disproportionate private funding funneled to Democratic jurisdictions and claims that the imbalance helped sway the 2020 election in Biden's favor, 28 states have either restricted or banned the use of private money to fund elections, while 12 counties have also restricted or banned the funds, according to the Capital Research Center.

In March, the SBA and Michigan Department of State (MDOS) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and a memorandum of agreement (MOA) regarding voter registration efforts the federal agency is implementing with the state.

According to the MOU, the SBA will “Work with MDOS to create a unique URL and post on its public facing website, social media pages, and other external communications,” and the URL “will directly connect to the State of Michigan’s online voter registration page.”

The MOU, which is in effect through Jan. 1, 2036, requires MDOS to provide SBA “a weekly total of persons who were driven to the MDOS online voter registration site and completed the form via the [SBA]’s unique URL by each Friday, until online voter registration ends on the 15th day prior to each upcoming election.”

According to the MOA, MDOS is to provide the SBA “access to training resources related to the online Michigan Voter Information Center (MVIC)” and the SBA “shall provide voter registration training to all personnel conducting activities under this MOA.”

The SBA training must “include information on who is eligible to register to vote, the interactions during which Agency staff must make voter registration services available, instructions to Agency staff on how to refer individuals to register to vote online using MVIC, and an overview of additional information that is available to voters in MVIC,” the MOA reads.

The MOA also states that the SBA “may invite MDOS to various in-person events to allow MDOS to register attendees to vote.”

The House Small Business Committee is conducting an investigation into how the SBA and MDOS are implementing “Bidenbucks.”

“Seeing the MOU with Michigan does nothing to ease our concerns about the SBA getting involved in federal elections,” House Small Business Committee Chairman Roger Williams, R-Texas, said in a statement last month.

“In fact, this agreement confirms SBA employees are preparing to undergo trainings on how to best register voters rather than spend their time working to help struggling small businesses. I encourage all Americans to look at this agreement and decide if this is how they want their tax dollars spent. The SBA must end all these electioneering activities on behalf of President Biden and get back to their sole mission of supporting the needs of Main Street” Williams continued.

Early last month, SBA Chief of Staff Arthur Plews and his special adviser were subpoenaed by the committee after allegedly missing scheduled committee interviews. Later in May, Plews was scheduled to testify before the committee but hired a lawyer, and the committee was working to reschedule the meeting, Fox News reported.

The committee released a map of overlap of DNC target demographics for age and race with outreach events, campaign and SBA visits and another map of overlap between voter registration rates, SBA events, and DNC target demographics for age and race.

The first map shows that Biden campaign offices are in counties that have targeted racial demographics and/or have had the highest voter registration increase. Nine of the 15 counties with the highest increase of voters registered were also where there was the highest target of demographics, location of events, field offices, and Biden campaign trips.

The second map shows that most of the counties with the highest African-American population and young voters also had the highest number of voters registered in the past year.

In prepared remarks for the committee hearing on Tuesday, Job Creators Network Foundation President Elaine Parker wrote that small businesses are struggling with price inflation.

Despite this, “the SBA is choosing to devote its efforts to registering voters in a swing state rather than helping small businesses survive this difficult economic climate,” Parker wrote. “That's unacceptable and a slap in the face to hardworking small business owners nationwide.”

“Turning the SBA into an arm of the Biden 2024 re-election campaign and weaponizing it to advance Democratic party interests violates political norms and strips the SBA of its well-earned role and reputation as a defender of small businesses,” she later added.

The SBA and MDOS didn’t respond to requests for comment on Monday.

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