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A television ad claimed Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe permitted outside funding from a group backed by Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the 2020 elections.
The ad misrepresents Wolfe’s role as elections administrator.
Local clerks, not Wolfe, accepted grants from Zuckerberg’s group to help manage voting challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
State and federal judges ruled the grants were legal on multiple occasions.
A new TV ad attacking Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for not impeaching Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s top elections administrator, repeats misleading claims about Wolfe’s involvement with outside funding given to Wisconsin local clerks during the 2020 election.
The ad claims Wolfe permitted clerks to accept money from an election assistance group backed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg and his wife. A full-page newspaper ad that ran in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel makes a similar claim.
"She permitted the ‘Zuckerbucks’ influence money," a voiceover narrates in the ad.
However, Wolfe did not decide to accept money from the Zuckerbergs’ group, nor did she have power over decisions by local clerks to do so.
Impeachment articles riddled with falsehoods
First, in an earlier review, we found all 15 impeachment articles against Wolfe contain misleading or false claims about how elections administration works in Wisconsin.
That hasn’t stopped the Wisconsin Election Committee Inc. from running ads on Milwaukee-area TV and radio stations threatening to recall Vos or launch a primary challenge if he doesn't move forward with impeachment against Wolfe.
Vos advanced the impeachment articles to an Assembly committee shortly after the ad launched.
The group is led by Adam Steen, who unsuccessfully launched a primary challenge against Vos in 2022, and Harry Wait, a Racine County man who was charged last year for fraudulently obtaining absentee ballots.
The group’s TV ad makes multiple false claims about Wolfe, one of which blames her for allowing local clerks to accept more than $10 million from the Zuckerburgs’ group, the Center for Tech and Civic Life, founded to help conduct the presidential election during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ad also makes false claims about Wolfe’s role in Wisconsin Elections Commission decisions ahead of the 2020 election and falsely blames her for mismanaging Wisconsin’s voter rolls.
When asked to provide evidence for the ad’s claims, Wait provided documents from summarizing state lawsuits that HOT Government, a group focused on false election claims, cited as proof Wolfe acted illegally. The documents did not cite grants from Zuckerberg’s group.
He also provided an election report from former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman that found no evidence of election fraud.
Local clerks, not Wolfe, accepted money
Most of the funds were directed to Wisconsin’s five largest cities — Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine, where Democratic voters are concentrated.
However, local municipal governments legally voted to accept the funding. It was not a decision made by the WEC and Wolfe.
Republicans have tried but failed on nearly a half dozen occasions in court to claim local clerks’ decisions to accept private grants and outside consultants for state elections administration was illegal.
In a TV ad, the Wisconsin Election Committee claims Wolfe "permitted the ‘Zuckerbucks’ influence money."
But local clerks accepted that funding, from the Center for Tech and Civic Life. The commission and Wolfe played no role in soliciting, collecting or distributing the money. That makes this claim not only false, but ridiculous.
We rate it Pants on Fire.
Politifact, Impeachment articles against Meagan Wolfe riddled with false and misleading claims, Oct. 4, 2023
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Group spending six figures on ads threatening to unseat Vos unless elections chief Wolfe is impeached, Nov. 2, 2023
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Vos moves impeachment articles against elections chief Wolfe to committee in wake of ad pressure campaign, Nov. 2, 2023
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin's five largest cities awarded $6.3 million in effort to make elections safer amid coronavirus pandemic, July 6, 2020
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservatives again lose in court as they challenge election grants to Wisconsin municipalities funded by Mark Zuckerberg, June 1, 2022
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Republicans reviewing the 2020 election are focused on private grants to Wisconsin cities. Here is what the courts have already said, Nov. 24, 2021
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Robin Vos fires Michael Gableman, ending a 2020 election review that's cost taxpayers more than $1 million and produced no evidence of fraud, Aug. 12, 2022
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