A 2020 election integrity probe in Wisconsin reported findings Tuesday that a nonprofit group funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg committed election bribery when it targeted $8.8 million in get-out-the-vote funds to five heavily Democratic jurisdictions.
The conclusion is part of a 136-page interim report issued by the Wisconsin Office of the Special Counsel, which was tasked with examining 2020 state election integrity issues.
Testifying before the Wisconsin legislature Tuesday about the report, OSC lead investigator Michael Gableman told lawmakers they should “take a very hard look” at decertifying the results that showed President Biden the winner in Wisconsin, although Republicans in Madison have repeatedly rejected revisiting the results.
Mr. Gableman a former state Supreme Court justice who was appointed to run the probe last year by Wisconsin’s Republican House speaker, outlined numerous problems discovered in the aftermath of the election, including “security gaps that tend to enable bad actors to operate in the shadows,” and a catalog of “the numerous questionable and unlawful actions of various actors in the 2020 election.”
The report details a “bribery scheme” implemented by the Chicago-based Center for Tech and Civic Life, a liberal voter advocacy group heavily funded by Mr. Zuckerberg.
In the run-up to the 2020 election, the CTCL allocated Zuckerberg-funded grants, which became known as “Zuck Bucks,” to government officials in Wisconsin to help increase absentee and in-person voting. But the money was only funneled to five heavily Democratic areas: Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, Kenosha and Green Bay.
The scheme began with $10,000 grants given to each of the five jurisdictions to facilitate “safe and secure election administration,” but it quickly evolved into “a joint operation,” between the CTCL and five cities with a focus on increased voting in “communities of color.”
The grant money increased dramatically: Milwaukee received nearly $2.2 million, Green Bay officials accepted $1.09 million, Madison took $1.3 million, Kenosha received $863,000 and Racine was awarded $942,000 from CTCL.
As part of the agreement with CTCL, the cities were provided an additional $216,000 to set up ballot drop boxes in “targeted neighborhoods,” which was in violation of Wisconsin law, according to the report.
The report concluded, “The motive for these grants was impermissible and partisan get out the vote efforts.”
Election officials in the five jurisdictions, the report found, may have broken the law “by not treating all voters the same in the same election … a bedrock of principle of election law.”
The report said the targeting of certain groups for increased voting impacted the outcome of the election and hindered the public’s right to vote.
Election officials in the five jurisdictions, the report found, “crossed the line between election administration and campaigning, and that never should have happened.”
The report is likely to raise more questions about the 2020 presidential election, particularly among those who have remained skeptical about the integrity of the results. Former President Donald Trump continues to claim that election irregularities and fraud gave Mr. Biden an unfair advantage.
Republican legislatures across the country are now moving to ban local governments from accepting private money for election expenses.
In Minnesota, a Senate elections committee on Tuesday began considering legislation that would prohibit counties, municipalities and school districts from using funds from nonprofits and for-profit businesses to conduct elections.
Democrats, who long ago denounced claims of 2020 election fraud, rejected the findings in Mr. Gableman’s report.
“Gableman’s incompetent investigation was an amateur clown show from the beginning.” Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, tweeted. “This enormous waste of tax dollars was a national embarrassment yielding nothing but attacks on our democracy. It’s time for the GOP to end this charade and start working for the American people.”
Mr. Trump, who believes the election results should be re-examined in several states that he lost, including Wisconsin, said in a statement Tuesday, “Everyone who loves America should be closely following” the election integrity hearing in Wisconsin.
Mr. Trump also warned that “the fake news” is shielding the findings from Americans.