Louisiana Case against Zuckerberg Election Interference Proceeds

A Louisiana appeals court ruled last week that state Attorney General Jeff Landry’s lawsuit challenging efforts by an organization associated with Mark Zuckerberg to flood the state’s elections with improper funding can go forward.

The case against the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) was filed in October 2020 as a result of CTCL flooding the state’s election system with “Zuck Bucks.” Landry sought an order declaring CTCL’s private contributions to local election officials and systems in the state were “unlawful and contrary to Louisiana law.”

When the case was filed, more than 20 Louisiana officials had applied for CTCL grants totaling nearly $8 million. After Landry warned officials generally that the funds were illegal, most ended their efforts to collect funds from CTCL. At least two parishes went on to accept more than $810,000 related to the 2020 election.

Even though Landry was able to contain the damage in 2020 to two parishes, his case was prevented from addressing the ongoing “corrosive influence of outside money on Louisiana election officials” when it was dismissed by a state trial court judge.

The trial judge found that there was no legal reason to stop local election officials from obtaining grant money to assist with procuring needed staff and voting equipment for the November 2020 election. The judge relied on a provision in the state constitution that allows “political subdivisions” to acquire property by “donation.”

After filing an appeal of that decision, Landry obtained an order from a state appeals court last Wednesday that reversed the trial court judge’s decision. The appeals court determined that local election officials are not “political subdivisions” as defined by the state constitution that qualify for private donations. The appeals court found them to be “constitutional officers” and not “subdivisions.” As officers, they have only the specific powers delegated to them by law.

The appeals court ordered the case to be returned to the trial court with instructions that it proceed with the case consistent with its ruling. Even though the appeals court decision did not expressly declare the CTCL grants to be unlawful, it made it clear that only the secretary of state has the responsibility for paying for all election costs and expenses. That finding is consistent with the overall theory of Landry’s original lawsuit.

The case can now proceed with the normal process of discovery, which will include depositions of key witnesses and procuring documents related to the grants.

Landry noted that since he first filed the case, there have been new and troubling disclosures about the $350 million CTCL pumped into the public election system. After the exposure of how “Zuck Bucks” have perversely affected elections nationwide, several states have passed laws to prohibit funding by private organizations of election processes.