Wisconsin Republicans look at constitutional ban on Zuckerbucks

Bill “would prohibit out-of-state billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook from using their deep pockets to control our local election,” sponsor says.

Updated: February 3, 2022 - 11:30pm

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The latest attempt to close one of the loopholes from the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin would use the state’s constitution.

Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, is proposing a constitutional amendment that would ban private donations for election operations in the state.

“[It] would prohibit out-of-state billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook from using their deep pockets to control our local election administration,” August said on Twitter Thursday.

Zuckerberg and his Center for Tech and Civic Life are at the heart of Wisconsin’s election investigations. Both former Supreme Court Justice Mike Gableman and state lawmakers want answers as to just how Wisconsin’s five largest (and five largest Democratic) cities used nearly $9 million in grants from the group in the 2020 election.

While CTCL offered Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Racine, and Kenosha grant money as a way to help people vote during the coronavirus, evidence suggests the group did a lot more. There are emails and reports that CTCL all but took over the election operation in Green Bay.

August, in an email to lawmakers this week, said while state law does not stop private groups from offering local election offices money, it doesn’t allow it either.

“These donations still broke the spirit of our election laws,” August’s email said. “Voters need to be able to trust that their local election officials are acting in a non-partisan capacity.”

Rep. Gae Magnifici, R-Dresser, echoed that.

“I’ve talked about this attack on public faith and the importance of restoring the integrity of Wisconsin’s elections countless times,” she said on Twitter. “I’m proud to co-sponsor Rep. August’s constitutional amendment to prohibit out-of-state billionaires from buying our election.”

The amendment is part of a sweeping package of other election reform proposals, all of which are likely doomed.

Gov. Tony Evers has vowed not to sign anything that he says will make it tougher to vote in Wisconsin.

But the governor does not have any say over a constitutional amendment.

If the Republican-led legislature approves the amendment this year, then again next spring it could go directly to voters soon after that.

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