Former President Donald Trump says Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s more than $400 million in funding for local election offices was “illegal” after a new analysis said the funding boosted Democratic turnout in key areas.
Trump, who lost re-election to President Biden by narrow margins in a handful of swing states, told political news host Bill O’Reilly that he believes Zuckerberg may not “get away” with it.
“What he did, in my opinion, was illegal,” Trump told O’Reilly in an interview that will air at 8 p.m. Monday on The First TV.
“He’s going to get away with it,” O’Reilly said.
Trump shot back: “Well, you don’t know if he’s going to get away with it. OK.”
Trump previously accused Facebook of bias for indefinitely suspending his account following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and for censoring reporting about Hunter Biden’s laptop and documents that appear to link the elder Biden to his son’s business relationships in China and Ukraine.
Trump in the same interview tells O’Reilly he would not mandate COVID-19 vaccines if he were still in office because he’d “sell it” to people to take voluntarily.
Facebook did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
The billionaire social media entrepreneur and his wife supported local voting officials with $419.5 million through a pair of nonprofits. The organizations — the Center for Technology and Civic Life and the Center for Election Innovation and Research — surged funds to officials managing an unprecedented increase in mail-in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funds were donated to “promote safe and reliable voting” so that “every eligible voter can participate in a safe and timely way and that their vote is counted,” according to a September 2020 press release announcing the plan.
One of the Zuckerberg-funded groups pushed back on claims of bias and said more offices in Republican areas got support. Spokesman Ben LaBolt of the Center for Tech and Civic Life said “more of the jurisdictions that received funding historically voted Republican than Democratic, so the facts belie the claim.”
But data modeling by former University of Dallas economics professor William Doyle — published last week by The Federalist — found that the money may have boosted Biden in Texas, which Trump won, by 200,000 votes. Doyle didn’t provide modeling for other states.
Trump weighed in after former Republican Federal Election Commission member Hans von Spakovsky said he believes private funding of local election offices should be banned.
“My reaction is that this was a carefully orchestrated attempt to convert official government election offices into get-out-the-vote operations for one political party and to insert political operatives into election offices in order to influence and manipulate the outcome of the election,” he said.
Legislation to prohibit outside funding of elections has been introduced in 17 states this year, according to Ballotpedia.
Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed one measure in April, saying, “With public confidence in our elections in peril, it’s clear our elections must be pristine and above reproach — and the sole purview of government.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, said last week that a recent election reform law he signed had “banned Zuckerbucks” in the Sunshine State.
Whether Zuckerberg’s money had a partisan impact remains a matter of debate.
Earlier analysis by American Public Media found that Zuckerberg’s money wasn’t responsible for narrow Biden wins in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania. That report said voter turnout wasn’t higher in counties that got more of the money.
But Doyle pointed out that of the 26 grant recipients that received $1 million or more, 25 were jurisdictions that Biden won. In Georgia, Doyle found, counties that received funds were 2.3 points more Democratic in 2020 than 2016 and non-funded counties hardly changed.
Critics also point to the apparently disproportionate funding for some Biden-leaning urban areas. The best-funded area in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, reportedly received $6.32 per capita compared to $1.12 per capita for Berks County, the top-funded Trump county. Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016 before losing there in 2020.