Evers Keeps Dark Money Flowing Into Local Election Operations

MacIver News Service | June 30, 2021

By Bill Osmulski

Democrat cities in Wisconsin can continue to take dark money and coordinate their elections with partisan organizations thanks to Gov. Evers’ veto pen.

On Wednesday, the governor vetoed AB 173, which would have stopped private entities, political groups, and wealthy donors from funding local governments’ election operations.

Lawmakers passed the bill after it was revealed that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg donated millions of dollars through a non-profit to Democrat-run cities in Wisconsin for election operations. The City of Green Bay received $1.6 million grant that came with a political operative, who effectively took control of the city’s election away from the city clerk. At least five state laws were broken in the process, and lawmakers wanted to make sure nothing like this could happen again.

“When elections are held the public deserves to know they are free from partisan influence. When an out-of-state billionaire selectively paid for election administration in certain areas of Wisconsin, the money had a partisan influence on the outcome of the 2020 election according to a study of the project. That kind of behavior undermines public confidence in elections and distorts the impartial and fair administration of election laws,” said Sen. Duey Strobel (R-Saukville), who co-authored the bill.

Gov. Evers doesn’t see anything wrong with what happened in Green Bay or in allowing Democrat cities to use dark money to run their elections.

Gov. Evers, however, doesn’t see anything wrong with what happened in Green Bay or in allowing Democrat cities to use dark money to run their elections.

“I object to restrictions on local governments potentially using supplemental funding for election administration,” he wrote in his veto message. “This bill unnecessarily restricts the use of resources that may be needed to ensure elections are administered effectively.”

Stroebel said “It is frankly shocking to me that Gov. Evers doesn’t believe there should be a law prohibiting partisan activists from controlling access to ballots, issuing recommendations on election decisions and overseeing the conduct of our elections. Election integrity is not a partisan issue, and when private, partisan entities attempt to control our elections everyone loses.”

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) echoed Stroebel’s concern saying, “What should have been an easily-agreed upon fix to a clear problem has unfortunately been vetoed today by Governor Ever,” said Steineke. “It shouldn’t be controversial to say that private money should not be used to tell our elections administrators how to do their job. But apparently our ever-partisan governor just doesn’t agree.”