MADISON — Late this afternoon, word broke that Democrat Governor Tony Evers had vetoed Republican-led legislation that would have prohibited private organizations from using dark money to administer elections. Authored in response to troubling news reports emerging from Green Bay, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) responded to news of the governor’s veto of Assembly Bill 173 with the following statement:
“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.”
In 2020, groups tied to Facebook-founder Mark Zuckerberg donated hundreds of millions of dollars to a group called Center for Tex and Civic Life. In turn, that group provided grants to cities around the county, including: Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine. That money was supposed to assist with the cost of election administration — but apparently came with many strings attached and problematic caveats.
According to an open complaint filed with the Wisconsin Elections Commission against the City of Green Bay, the City received upwards of $1.6 million from the Zuckerberg-affiliated group. The complaint alleges that the organization at times dictated to the City and it’s officials on how to run portions of the fall general election.
“Tony Evers had an opportunity to take a stand for free and fair elections in our state by signing this bill,” said Steineke. “Instead, he chose to stand with big-tech billionaires and liberal political operatives and allowed this dubious behavior to continue into the future.”
AB 173 is one of several elections reforms passed by Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature since November of 2020 and supplement the on-going forensic audit that is currently being conducted by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau.