It’s been a pretty eventful week for Rep. Blake Miguez (R-Erath), who chairs the House Republican delegation at the Louisiana legislature.
On Monday, Miguez was set to host this year’s installment of the delegation’s annual Elephant Stomp gala, which raises lots of cash for its efforts to keep the legislature in the GOP column. But Miguez wasn’t there that night; instead, he was laid up in the hospital and on Tuesday morning doctors removed his diseased gall bladder.
And with Miguez laid up, House Speaker Clay Schexnayder fired Rep. Ray Garofalo from his role as chair of the House Education Committee for the sin of bringing a bill to stop Critical Race Theory in the schools and therefore irritating the Legislative Black Caucus. Observers at the Capitol found it no particular coincidence that Schexnayder would move on Garofalo when Miguez would be out of action. Especially since the delegation’s policy committee had unanimously endorsed Garofalo’s HB 564, the critical race theory bill.
But while the week certainly began badly, Miguez’ operation was reportedly a success and by Thursday he was without question on the mend and expected to make a full recovery.
Meanwhile, an important bill he filed for the current legislative session has now made it to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk in time that Edwards can’t veto it without legislators voting to override the veto – something they might very well have the votes to do.
The bill is HB 20, and it would put a stop to the “Zuckerbucks” – specifically, expenditures like the $400 million Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife donated through a leftist nonprofit called the Center for Tech and Civic Life to local election officials essentially to turn them into get-out-the-vote operations in monolithically Democrat areas.
Conservatives and others concerned about a “stolen” 2020 presidential election have spent much time examining voting machines and fraudulent mail-in ballots, and well-founded concerns do exist with respect to those irregularities. But as J. Christian Adams has written, Zuckerberg’s $400 million was the real reason the 2020 election turned into such a mess.
What these grants did was build structural bias into the 2020 election where structural bias matters most – in densely populated urban cores. It converted election offices in key jurisdictions with deep reservoirs of Biden votes into Formula One turnout machines. The hundreds of millions of dollars built systems, hired employees from activist groups, bought equipment and radio advertisements. It did everything that street activists could ever dream up to turn out Biden votes if only they had unlimited funding.
In 2020, they had unlimited funding because billionaires made cash payments to 501(c)(3) charities that in turn made cash payments to government election offices.
Flush with hundreds of millions in new cash, government election offices turned those donations into manpower, new equipment, and street muscle to turn often sluggish and incompetent urban election offices into massive Biden turnout machines across the country – in Madison, Milwaukee, Detroit, Lansing, Philadelphia, and Atlanta among dozens of others.
Philadelphia’s election office budget was normally $9.8 million. The CLTC gave Philadelphia $10 million, more than doubling the city budget.
Those millions were used to hire local activists as city employees to drive around and collect ballots. The millions bought new printers and scanners to accommodate mail ballots. Philadelphia established brand new satellite election offices across the most Biden-friendly neighborhoods in the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The millions bought scores of convenient drop boxes across the same neighborhoods where mail ballots could be conveniently dropped. Even though laws limited third parties from collecting and dropping off multiple ballots, people were photographed dropping off bundles of ballots at the boxes.
If voters couldn’t muster the initiative to travel a few blocks to the drop-off boxes or new satellite offices, the city went to them to collect their ballot.
CLTC dollars flowed through Philadelphia election officials to the pricey public relations firm Aloysius Butler & Clark. They designed billboards, posters, bus advertisements, and print ads. Radio advertisements and street marketing all added to the blitz.
Miguez had brought a bill to make private donations to public elections officials illegal in Louisiana last year. Edwards – naturally! – vetoed it.
But he brought it again this year, and HB 20 passed in the House on a 69-35 vote. It passed the Senate Thursday with a 26-11 vote…
The Louisiana Senate has approved a House-passed ban on private election funding that Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed last year.
Rep. Blake Miguez, R-Erath, filed House Bill 20 in response to what he called “Zuckerbucks,” referring to grants Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, paid for last year to ensure “every eligible voter can participate in a safe and timely way and have their vote counted.”
Local clerks of court in Louisiana initially wanted to apply for the grants but were advised not to by Attorney General Jeff Landry, who said the grants might violate law. Miguez and other supporters of the bill said they wanted to clarify the law, arguing money from private sources has the potential to lead to the donor having influence on elections.
Slidell Republican Sen. Sharon Hewitt, who presented the bill in her chamber, said if private donations are available, some jurisdictions might get money and some wouldn’t, leading to unequal treatment of voters. Some lawmakers, however, said private money, if handled correctly, could pay for valid expenses and save the taxpayers money.
When asked whether it would be OK if the money flowed through the secretary of state, who runs the state’s elections, Hewitt said that would be “less objectionable,” but she would not support an amendment. Senators passed the bill without amendments with a 26-11 vote.
Bills with 70 votes in the House and 26 in the Senate are veto-proof, meaning that Miguez’ bill is only one vote shy in the House.
But he’s got that vote now, because Rep. Laurie Schlegel, who hadn’t been sworn in when HB 20 went before the House, is expected to enthusiastically support it.
And that would mean Louisiana is off-limits to Zuckerbucks and the leftist electoral manipulation they entail.