Sen. Rick Brattin’s Capitol Report for the Week of April 11: Our Elections Are Not for Sale

There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the 2020 election, which was, perhaps, the most important election of our lifetimes. Why were state election laws unilaterally rewritten by courts? According to the Constitution, legislatures pass laws, not the courts. Why were there so many reporting irregularities on election night in swing states? Why can’t we analyze all the available data and information to ensure elections were conducted honestly, ethically and legally? There is one question we do know the answer to: a Silicon Valley billionaire meddled in our elections by funneling millions of dollars into election offices, and it happened right here in Missouri.

Here’s how it happened: under the guise of offering grants to help communities respond to COVID-19, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, spent more than $400 million from their accounts in California to fund a nonprofit which, in turn, passed along the cash to state and local election offices across the country. Just in Missouri, election offices from Kansas City to St. Louis were sent over $9 million.

It’d be one thing if these “Zuckerbucks,” as they are known, were distributed evenly to traditionally conservative and liberal areas across our state, and for the express purpose of helping election offices and polling locations respond to COVID-19. But it wasn’t. The money was disproportionately spent in leftist strongholds. And the money was not spent just to help offices with COVID-19 PPE equipment, and supplies, at least not to the degree advertised – COVID was just an excuse. Much of the cash was spent to help mobilize left-leaning get-out-the-vote efforts in those liberal-strongholds and it all happened right under our noses. The worst part of all of this is that it’s currently legal under Missouri law.

We have a chance to fix that this year and protect future elections from interference by out-of-state billionaires. My bill, Senate Bill 695, will do just that. It shuts off the cash-spigot for the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Google, George Soros and anyone else meddling in Missouri’s elections.

If anyone needs evidence of the influence of Zuckerbucks, just look at the numbers from 2020. In Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, our current congresswoman received fewer votes in 2020 in both St. Louis and St. Charles counties than she did in 2018, while her Democrat opponent enjoyed a 32 percent increase over 2018. Those counties received $2,048,474 and $667,919, respectively, in Zuckerbucks. This is especially troubling, given that Jefferson County, the other county that comprises the 2nd Congressional District, did not receive any Zuckerbucks, and vote margins there followed past trends. Overall in the state, every single Missouri county that then-candidate Joe Biden carried in 2020 received Zuckerbucks, while fewer than half of the counties former President Donald Trump carried received them.

Make no mistake about it, the Zuckerbucks scheme worked in 2020. That’s why we need to do something about it. Letting private money influence our public elections is just plain wrong. The ballot box is sacred and our elections are built on trust, transparency and confidence. Any attempt to undercut that damages our democratic process and undermines the faith voters have in their vote and the integrity of our elections.

We have an opportunity with SB 695 to restore some of that integrity and make sure future elections in Missouri are free from the covert partisan meddling of billionaires by prohibiting election authorities from accepting donations, grants or gifts from private groups.

Laws banning Zuckerbucks are strongly supported by voters from both sides of the aisle, with recent polling from a nonprofit organization finding 72 percent of Missourians in favor of such a ban. Similar laws have already been signed into law in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.

My bill will help ensure that Missouri elections are truly for Missourians by keeping private, partisan funding out of the hands of those who administer our elections. Under my legislation, there would be no more billionaires giving strings-attached money to election authorities and there would be no more Zuckerbucks in Missouri. Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our constitutional republic and every American should be able to trust that their vote counts. That’s why I will always fight for election integrity.

If you have any ideas, questions and concern, please feel free to contact me at the State Capitol: (573) 751-2108, or by writing to Sen. Rick Brattin, Missouri State Capitol, Room 331, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

God bless and thank you for the opportunity to work for you in the Missouri Senate.