Mississippi joins states limiting outside election funding

JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Mississippi is the latest Republican-run state to ban election offices from accepting donations from private groups for ballot operations — a move fueled by conservative suspicion over donations from the founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg in 2020.

Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed Bill 1365 into law on Friday, and it will become law on July 1. .”

Reeves said in a video posted to Facebook on Monday that he was “deeply disturbed by big tech’s attempt to influence the 2020 election.”

“Whether it’s trying to silence conservative voices or suppressing information they disagree with, California’s tech elites will stop at nothing to impose their woke ideology on the American people,” said Reaves. “Our elections can’t be left to billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, especially when groups like Facebook routinely silence conservative voices on their platforms.”

Republicans control the Mississippi House and the Senate. The final version of the bill passed the Senate 49-2 with bipartisan support. It passed the House 78-38 with opposition from Democrats.

Jessica Anderson is executive director of the conservative Heritage Action For America, which has lobbied for such bans. She said in a statement Monday that the new law would ban the use of “Zuck Bucks.”

“Mississipipians deserve to have fair elections free from the outside influence of Big Tech billionaires,” Anderson said.

Zuckerberg and his wife, Patricia Chan, donated $400 million for election operations across the United States in 2020 as officials tried to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, the nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life distributed grants to 2,500 election offices nationwide. The money was spent in a variety of ways — protective gear for poll workers, public education campaigns promoting new ways to vote during the pandemic, and new trucks to transport voting materials.

Louisiana’s Republican attorney general in 2020 ordered his state’s election offices to reject grants from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which handed out $350 million of Zuckerberg’s money.

By 2021, at least eight Republican-run states had banned private donations to election offices. Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed a ban in March.

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