Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law on Saturday that limits the private funding of election administration in the state.
Abbott, a Republican, tweeted that the new law “bans private groups like the one supported by Zuckerberg from spending millions like Zuckerberg and others did in Texas.”
I just signed a law banning “Zuckerbucks” in Texas.
It bans private groups like the one supported by Zuckerberg from spending millions to administer elections like Zuckerberg & others did in Texas.
That is a government function not to be messed with by election influencers.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 12, 2021
The law, HB 2283, prohibits “the joint elections commission, county election commission, and county election board,” of any county in the state from:
…accept[ing] a contribution of $1,000 or more, including the value of in-kind donations, offered by . . a private individual, a business entity [such as] a corporation, partnership, or trust, or another third party, or us[ing] [such a contribution] to perform a function of administering elections. . . without the written consent of the secretary of state.”
The law further states:
The secretary of state may grant consent . . . only if the secretary consults with the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the speaker of the house of representatives on the proposed donation; and . . . the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the speaker of the house of representatives unanimously agree to the secretary ’s grant of consent.
“This is an interesting approach which involves the legislative branch and creates transparency. It is a good step,” Phill Kline, executive director of the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society, a public interest law firm, said in May when a bill that contained very similar language limiting the private funding of election administration was passed by the Texas House of Representatives.
As Breitbart News reported:
Private funding of election administration was virtually unknown in the American political system until the 2020 presidential election, when Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan donated $350 million to the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), which provided funding to county and municipal governments around the country for election administration, and $69 million to the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR), which provided funding to 23 state governments, primarily through the Secretary of State’s office, also for the funding of election administration.
In Texas, the Mark Zuckerberg-funded CTCL spent $36 million in urban counties of Texas in the 2020 election.
Ken Cuccinelli, national chairman of the Election Transparency Initiative said in a statement released by the organization on Monday:
We are grateful to Governor Abbot and the Texas legislature for acting on this critical piece of anti-corruption legislation, sorely needed in Texas to help clean up the use of private money selectively funneled into local elections. The corrupting influence of big tech oligarchs like Mark Zuckerberg dilutes the voice and vote of Texans, manipulates the official voting apparatus, and undermines trust and confidence in the democratic process.
“The Election Transparency Initiative [is] a partnership between American Principles Project (APP) and the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), was organized to combat H.R. 1/S. 1 and advocate for state-based election reforms that voters can trust,” the statement noted.
While the signing of HB 2283 into law was considered a significant accomplishment by conservatives and Republicans who support election integrity reform in Texas, it comes on the heels of the Texas State Legislature’s failure to pass SB 7, a comprehensive election reform bill, before the close of this year’s legislative session.
Cuccinelli, the former Virginia Attorney General and 2013 GOP gubernatorial candidate, urged Gov. Abbott to go further and call a special session of the Texas State Legislature to address additional election integrity issues. Cluccinelli added:
Without delay, we urge continued action in a special session to restore fair, secure, and transparent elections Texans can trust. Now more than ever, the legislature must finish the work obstructed by Texas House Democrats who abandoned their duty in May and ensure every legal vote will be counted fairly and openly in Texas.
Texas becomes the most recent state to pass legislation in 2021 to limit or prohibit the private funding of election administration. Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Idaho, and Louisiana have passed similar legislation this year.