Commission rejects claim that grants to cities were illegal

December 9, 2021 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Bipartisan Wisconsin elections officials have rejected a claim that private grants which helped cities run their elections during the coronavirus pandemic were illegal.

The state Elections Commission’s rejection Wednesday follows similar rulings by three courts in the last year which dismissed claims that the grants were illegal.

The commission’s decision involves $8.8 million in grants made by the Center for Tech and Civic Life to Wisconsin’s five largest cities, including Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Racine and Kenosha.

The center is largely funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. Conservatives who have questioned the grants have said it was improper for most of the grant money to go to communities that have large populations of Democrats, the Journal Sentinel reported.

“The Commission finds that the Complaint does not raise probable cause to believe that a violation of law or abuse of discretion has occurred. All claims are hereby dismissed,” attorneys working for the commission wrote in a letter they sent to the lawyer who spearheaded the challenges.

The Wisconsin Voters Alliance, the Thomas More Society’s Amistad Project and Erick Kaardal, an attorney with a Minneapolis law firm, have challenged the grants.

All have close ties to Michael Gableman, the former state Supreme Court justice who is reviewing the election at taxpayer expense for Assembly Republicans.