What Does Success in Election Integrity Initiatives Look Like?

March 21, 2023

Success in election integrity initiatives is layered. The goal is always to secure a free and fair election process for all citizens.

There are many simultaneous fronts working right now to secure the vote, sometimes these efforts work in tandem, sometimes they run parallel.  Good efforts work to close loopholes in the law, to hold government officials accountable, and to ensure existing laws are not broken. Concerned voters should keep a close eye on investigations in their local municipality and state, and whether positive strides are being made by local officials to safeguard current election laws. The ground swell of citizen demand for accountability can stir up lobbying efforts by various interest groups, which is the second layer of election integrity.

The use of private money in the 2020 election made front page headlines when Americans learned that Mark Zuckerburg and his wife allocated $450 million dollars to the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) for targeted election funding in key areas specifically designed to harvest votes for Joe Biden. This private public partnership was soon coined “Zuckbucks”, and the angry response of citizens led lobbyists to succeed in getting many states to ban the use of Zuckbucks in future elections. This lobbying effort makes the need for any further litigation in these states moot. Winning legislatively in this manner is a cause for rejoicing, as the cause has a definite win without the need for courtroom lawyering fees.

When lobbying legislators isn’t a working strategy, the courtroom is another option. When a formal investigation is launched, as was the case in Wisconsin in 2021, the legal discovery process can bring about another kind of win. Courtroom lawyering offers a concrete avenue for definitive change through the judicial system.

Success in Election Integrity

As Special Counsel for the Thomas More Society, I litigated the Zuckbucks or related issues in the following nine states:  AZ, GA, IA, MI, MN, PA, SC, TX and WI.   At the same time, the Foundation for Government Accountability and Center for Capital Research, two election integrity lobbying groups, who are our allies succeeding in banning Zuckbucks in many states. According to their March 2022 report, 16 states have banned (or restricted) Zuckbucks.

States that Banned or Restricted Zuckbucks

Their report lists the following state statuses on prohibiting or limiting Zuckbucks:

Alabama (in-progress) prohibits with exceptions

Arizona prohibits Signed into Law 4/21

Arkansas prohibits Signed into Law 4/21

Florida prohibits Signed into Law 5/21

Georgia prohibits Signed into Law 3/21

Idaho prohibits Signed into Law 4/21

Indiana prohibits Passed legislature 3/22 waiting for gov sig

Iowa (in-progress) prohibits with exceptions

Kansas (governor veto overridden) prohibits Vetoed 5/21 law effective 7/21

Kentucky (in-progress) prohibits with exceptions Introduced 1/22

Louisiana (vetoed) prohibits Vetoed 6/21

Michigan (vetoed) prohibits Vetoed 10/21

Minnesota (in-progress) Introduced 2/22

Mississippi prohibits Signed into Law 3/22 law effective 7/22

Missouri (failed) Died in committee

Montana (failed) Died in committee

North Carolina (vetoed) Vetoed 12/21

North Dakota prohibits Signed into Law 4/21

Ohio prohibits Signed into Law 7/21

Oklahoma prohibits Passed 3/22

Pennsylvania (vetoed) did not prohibit, called for equal distribution Vetoed 6/21

South Carolina prohibits In Committee since 6/21

South Dakota prohibits Passed 3/22

Tennessee prohibits Signed into Law 5/21

Texas regulates, doesn’t prohibit Signed into Law 6/21

Virginia prohibits Passed 3/22

West Virginia (in-progress) regulates, doesn’t prohibit Introduced 1/22

Wisconsin (vetoed on 6/21) Bill proposed for amendment to WI constitution 2/22

Wyoming (failed) prohibits Died in committee

States with Thomas More Society Litigation

So, let’s go through the nine states I litigated in as Thomas More Society Special Counsel.  We won in three states with Zuckbuck legislation: AZ, GA and TX.  In three states, MI, PA and WI, Zuckbuck legislation was passed, but vetoed.  So, there’s work left to do.  In the other three states, MN, IA and SC, legislation has been passed but not yet enacted.  So, again, there is work left to do.

As to the other 13 states which have banned Zuckbucks, in addition to AZ, GA, and TX, we have been told by our lobbying partners that the Thomas More Society litigation in MI and WI –and the Special Counsel’s March 1, 2022 report in Wisconsin—really helped with the lobbyists making their case to the respective state legislatures and Governors.

Additionally, in Wisconsin, there is an effort to ban the Zuckbucks county-by-county because of Governor Evers’ veto of Zuckbuck legislation.  The following is a link is to an article from Lake Geneva News about Walworth County WI banning dark money (because WI Governor Evers vetoed Zuckbucks bill) (this is WVA Ron Heuer’s work):  https://www.lakegenevanews.net/news/local/walworth-county-republicans-ask-county-board-members-to-pass-ordinance-to-prevent-dark-money-being/article_a48ac8a5-b636-50c1-a600-d3eda18aece4.html.   Walworth County WI approved the ordinance banning Zuckbucks on 3/8/22.   Other WI counties—including Brown County—are working on getting the same ordinance enacted.

Thomas More Society hopes to support similar county-by-county efforts in MI and beyond.