During the last legislative session, it was clear more than ever that our constituents are focused on our election system and are encouraging elected leaders to take common-sense steps to keep our elections secure. If this is not a priority for Gov. John Bel Edwards, we will act without him and override his misguided veto.
In 2020, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, funneled hundreds of millions of dollars through their nonprofit entity and into local election offices across the country. Instead of buying personal protective equipment or other pandemic-related expenses, local election officials across the nation used the money for everything from advertisements and get-out-the-vote efforts to cars and individual salaries.
We know that two Louisiana parishes received these "Zuckerbucks" — Orleans and Calcasieu, the latter receiving at least $200,000. There was no legislative oversight or accountability on how this money was spent or distributed per parish. Our state likely would have received even more private money if not for the Legislature's action and Attorney General Jeff Landry's work on litigation to stop the funds. Our legislation, House Bill 20, ensures that Louisiana elections are run and funded by Louisianans and that no one can circumvent legislative oversight for their gain.
At a time of so much distrust and uncertainty in politics, this is one area where there should be common ground. Safeguarding our elections from even the possibility of misconduct is how we restore voter confidence and protect our self-governance. If we are to maintain public trust in our election process, loopholes like these must be closed.
We are not here to debate the outcome of the 2020 election and will not be distracted by those attacks. As the elected representatives of the people, we are here to ensure that there is no undue outsider influence in local election offices.
By vetoing the Legislature's attempt to ban private funding of local election offices, the governor has rolled out the red carpet for out-of-state billionaires looking to buy their candidate into office.