NOW CLOSED: “ZUCKERBUCKS” in Arkansas
During the 2020 general election Mark Zuckerberg and his affiliated organizations funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to government election offices. The funds were marketed as COVID-19 relief, but mainly were spent on get out the vote efforts in primarily democratic areas around the county. Zuckerberg is the liberal founder and head of Meta, the parent company of the social media networks Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. In total Zuckerberg’s nonprofit organization “Center for Tech and Civic Life” donated more than $325 million across the country, with county governments in Arkansas receiving over $1.2 million.
Map Source: Derek Willis; Source: Center for Tech and Civic Life
Counties receiving “ZuckerBucks” during the 2020 election.
Here is a breakdown of the amounts given to county governments in Arkansas during the 2020 election year.
|Little River County||$7,792|
Source: Center for Tech and Civic Life
You will notice that that the most democratic/liberal areas of the state, Little Rock and Fayetteville, saw the most money funneled to their counties. This seems to have helped Democrat Joe Biden increase his vote share against Trump compared to the 2016 election results even while Trump also gained in raw vote totals versus the 2016 election. Although it did not impact the overall statewide results, similar changes in swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania were impacted in these dramatic “ZuckerBucks” county shifts.
|County + Year||Republican Trump
Vote + % Share
|Democrat Clinton (2016) and Biden (2020) Vote + % Share||Trump Increase vs. 2016
Biden Increase vs. 2016
|Washington County 2016||41,476 (50.7%)||33,366 (40.8%)||–|
|Washington County 2020||47,504 (50.4%)||43,824 (46.5%)||Trump: +6,028 (-0.3%)
|Pulaski County 2016||61,257 (38.3%)||89,574 (56.1%)||–|
|Pulaski County 2020||63,687 (37.5%)||101,947 (59.9%)||Trump +2,430 (-0.8%)
Biden: +12,373 (+3.8%)
Source: Author calculations based on 2016 and 2020 county voting records
We do not know where all of this money came from, but Mark Zuckerbug is the main contributor. In many instances we do not know how the money was spent. These “grants” may be a new frontier in vote buying by giving money from outside private organizations straight to election officials and offices who administer and carry out the elections in our country. Who knows if a Russian oligarch, or a Chinese government official, or George Soros are additional sources for the funds, or plan to use this strategy in the next election cycle. Have they found a “legal” pathway to directly influence the outcome of elections at the most local levels of government? What prevents these funds from going straight into the pocketbooks of election officials for “bonuses” or pay increases.
It smells rotten and the Arkansas legislature agrees. During the 2021 legislative session Representative Rick Beck’s HB1866 (now Act 961 of 2021) was passed into law that prevents any funds being given to governments for election purposes from outside private groups. This will prevent these “ZuckerBucks” grants from happening anymore in Arkansas elections.
Voting Record: In the Arkansas Senate, Jim Hendren (Liberal Independent – Gravette) was the only Senator to not vote for HB1866. In the House, Fred Allen, Les Eaves, Lanny Fite, Robin Lundstrum, and Speaker Matthew Shepherd did not vote with David Fielding and Dwight Tosh voting Present with all other 93 representatives voting Yes.
Thank you to the Arkansas legislature for improving election integrity during the 2021 session by banning the use of “ZuckerBucks” or similar election influencing from outside groups.