News Story

Michigan Democratic Activists Took Zuckerberg Money For ‘Nonpartisan’ Get-Out-The-Vote Work

Legality could be in question

Jill Alper is a top Democratic Party strategist who has worked for seven Democratic presidential elections.

She’s a former political director of the Democratic National Committee who once held a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in her Grosse Pointe home.

How Alper’s political consulting firm collected $2 million for an alleged nonpartisan effort to increase voter turnout in Michigan in 2020 is at the heart of an election controversy that begins with hundreds of millions of dollars supplied by Facebook billionaire and founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a political operation funded by Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. It gave $69.5 million to a nonprofit called the Center for Election Innovation & Research in 2020. The announced purpose was to provide “non-partisan voter information” and to promote safe and reliable voting.

The Center for Election Innovation & Research then funneled the money to a Michigan nonprofit stacked with Democratic activists, called the Michigan Center for Election Law and Administration.

Jen McKernan is the president of that organization. He is also director of communications for Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, a labor union. McKernan made political contributions in 2020 to the Biden Victory Fund, Biden for President and ActBlue, which provides fundraising tools for Democratic political campaigns.

Ned Staebler, who is treasurer of the Michigan Center for Election Law and Administration, ran as a Democrat for the Michigan House of Representatives in 2010 and was defeated in the primary.

This is the group that delivered $2,088,000 to Alper Strategies in 2020, allegedly to support nonpartisan voting education efforts.

Michigan Radio reported, “The campaign will also send direct mail and text messages to people who have never voted before, or who have not voted in a long time.”

The Tennessee Star originally uncovered the network of spending and asked: What if Alper focused on contacting Democratic voters?

Eric Doster, an elections expert who has worked with the Republican Party, said the arrangement may have violated the law.

“This could be illegal if it could be proven that this effort was a deliberate attempt to get Dem voters to the polls. This would violate Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code,” Doster said.

Alper Strategies did not return an email seeking comment.

Tracy Wimmer, media relations director for the Michigan Secretary of State, did not return an email seeking comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.