Georgia Gov. Kemp used lieutenant to block ban on Zuckerbucks, state senator alleges

State Senate bill would have dealt with ballot chain of custody and prohibited private, "Zuckerbucks"-like donations from going directly to counties by routing them first through the State Election Board to distribute.

Updated: April 6, 2022 - 11:50pm

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Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R), the chair of the state Senate, refused to bring up an election integrity bill for a vote on Monday because Republican Gov. Brian Kemp wanted it scrapped, Senate GOP leadership said, according to state Sen. Brandon Beach.

Senate Bill 89 would have dealt with chain of custody for ballots and prohibited private, "Zuckerbucks"-like donations from going directly to counties by routing them first through the State Election Board for distribution.

However, a vote on the bill was blocked by Duncan on Monday, the last day of the 2022 legislative session.

Beach told Just the News on Tuesday that Senate GOP leadership claimed Duncan was shutting down the bill at Kemp's direction. 

"Sen. Brandon Beach doesn't speak for the Office of the Governor," the governor's office told Just the News on Tuesday in response to a request for comment on Beach's claim. "This is not true.

"Not only did the Governor sign the strongest election bill in the country last year, we were able to grant original jurisdiction to the [Georgia Bureau of Investigation] on future election cases this session. SB 89 failed to get enough votes on a procedural motion to move forward, with members of the Governor's Senate Floor Leaders supporting the motion. This came after all of the Governor's House Floor Leaders voted for the bill in the House."

The lieutenant governor's office hasn't responded to a request for comment.

Senate GOP leadership didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday evening.

On the day of his state of the state speech in January, Kemp signaled that he wasn't looking to make any more changes to Georgia election law, at least not with regard to ballot drop boxes.

In response to a question about proposals to ban ballot drop boxes, Kemp said that he didn't want to overhaul "the best elections integrity act in the country," referring to the bill he signed into law last year, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

"You need to speak individually to those legislators," Kemp said. "I think the action we took on drop boxes to make them available is the right thing to do for Georgians, but it also needs to be a secure process. And I think that's what the General Assembly has done."

On Monday, there was a vote to attempt to take away Duncan's power of the chair, but after the proposal was voted down with the aid of some Republican leaders, Duncan's block on a vote for SB 89 remained.

Debbie Dooley, cofounder of the Atlanta Tea Party, tweeted early Tuesday morning: "Republicans killed the election security legislation by not overturning Duncan's [decision] not to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.
Some senators were cowards and refused to vote on the motion.
I warned an activist earlier tonight not to trust GOP Senators 
No vote is right vote"

Despite the entire caucus supporting the bill, GOP "leadership wouldn't go along with stripping [Duncan's] power," Beach said.

If Duncan's power of the chair had been taken away, then SB 89 would have been voted on, the lawmaker added.

Beach said that between the November 2020 election and January 2021, he had warned the GOP Caucus that if they didn't call a special session to address signature-matching issues and get rid of ballot drop boxes, then the party would lose two U.S. Senate seats. Democrats now hold both of Georgia's Senate seats.

Looking ahead to the 2022 gubernatorial election, Beach said, "If we don't get rid of Zuckerbucks to these counties," like Fulton and Dekalb, then "we'll lose the governorship."

The state senator added that "Duncan believes we had the best election in 2020 and all these folks are crazy," referring to the lieutenant governor's criticism of former President Donald Trump's election fraud claims.

"On the best day in Fulton, they're not good at running elections," Beach said of the county he lives in. "Even without absentee ballots, they didn't get results in until 2-3 a.m. They don't know how to run elections and are bad actors."

If Zuckerbucks are given directly to those counties like they were in 2020, then they "will be used for purposes not good for Georgia," he added.

Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.

One election integrity provision from SB 89 did pass the state Senate on Monday in SB 441, which allows the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate election fraud.