Green Light Given Against Mark Zuckerberg

( In late March, a Louisiana appellate court reinstated the lawsuit brought by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry against the Mark Zuckerberg-funded election-meddling group the Center for Tech and Civic Life.

Landry sued CTCL in October 2020 seeking a court order declaring that private funding to local election officials and the electoral system, in general, is unlawful in Louisiana. Landry brought the suit after CTCL attempted to distribute millions in targeted grants to local elections offices throughout the state.

By the time the lawsuit was filed, over 20 Louisiana election officials had applied for CTCL grants amounting to nearly $8 million. After Landry had warned officials that the funds were illegal, most abandoned their efforts. However, two parishes, Orleans and Calcasieu did not. They went on to accept over $810,000 from CTCL for the 2020 election.

Landry’s lawsuit was initially dismissed by a state trial court which argued that there was no legal basis to prevent local election officials from accepting outside funding to pay for staff and equipment in the upcoming 2020 election.

Landry appealed and in late March, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision clearing the way for Landry to reinstate the lawsuit against the Center for Tech and Civic Life.

The appellate court’s decision does not declare the private funding of elections illegal, instead, it leaves that to the court to decide. However, the appellate court’s decision did highlight that Louisiana’s Constitution makes the Secretary of State the “chief election officer of the state” who is responsible for preparing and certifying ballots, administering election laws, and promulgating election returns.

The backlash against the private funding of elections has prompted several states to enact laws prohibiting the practice. As of the end of March, over a dozen states have restricted or banned private funds in running elections. Five additional states passed similar bills, but the bills were vetoed by their Democrat governors.

Louisiana’s Democrat Governor John Bel Edwards is one of the five who vetoed legislation to ban the practice.

But with the appellate court decision reinstating Landry’s challenge, Louisiana may still prevail in its attempt to prohibit outside money from interfering in the state’s future elections.