City officials in Green Bay, Wis., solicited private money from a voter advocacy group backed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, pledging they would use some of the $1 million grant to run registration campaigns and conduct outreach to “underrepresented” minority voters, according to memos obtained by Just the News through an open records request.
“[W]e’d like to reach out to the Hmong, Somali and Spanish-speaking communities with targeted mail, geo-fencing, posters (billboards), radio, television and streaming service PSAs, digital advertising, robo calls and robo texts, as well as voter-navigators,” the city’s grant questionnaire to the Center for Tech and Civic Life stated.
“We could also employ our voter navigators to have town halls, registration drives in trusted locations and conduct virtual events,” the questionnaire added.
Legal experts and Wisconsin GOP officials said Wednesday the grant arrangement appeared to put city election officials in the business of conducting partisan activities like get-out-the-vote efforts and registrations usually reserved for political parties and candidates. They added it possibly violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution by targeting only certain ethnic communities deemed favorable to Democrats.
“Using private funds to have government workers implement voter registration drives — that should be done by political groups — is an ethical concern,” Wisconsin GOP chairman Andrew Hitt told Just the News. “And the fact that they initially offered this money to Democrat cities, to target Democrat constituencies, sheds more light on their actual intentions.”