Trustee’s change of heart comes too late for village election grant

Haas wanted board to reconsider rejection after learning money is not tied to Zuckerberg but deadline has lapsed


Ozaukee Press staff

Fredonia Village Trustee Joshua Haas has changed his mind about rejecting a $1,200 state grant for election security, but he did so after the deadline passed for accepting the grant, Village Administrator Christophe Jenkins said Monday.

“Unfortunately, the grant is no longer available,” Jenkins said. “Maybe they’ll bring it back” for future election cycles.

The grant from the Wisconsin Elections Commission was going to be used by the village to purchase a laptop and anti-virus software, Jenkins said.

Haas questioned the grant, associating it with so-called “Zuckerbucks,” named after  Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who reportedly directed an estimated $350 million in the 2020 election to more than 2,500 election offices throughout the country, mostly in areas that favor Democrats, to aid in administrative tasks, voter communication and other work made more challenging by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, the Village Board deadlocked, 3-3, on whether to accept the $1,200 grant, thus killing the proposal. Bruce Paape and Don Dohrwardt voted with Haas against accepting the grant.

Some Republicans charged that Zuckerbucks and other such grants were a ruse to increase Democrat voter turnout.

Several states have since passed legislation prohibiting state and local election officials from accepting private donations to fund election-related expenses.

A study by the conservative Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty estimated that any extra turnout, if measurable at all, caused by the private donations would not have been enough to swing the election.

Haas said he did more research and discovered the WEC grant has existed since 2001 and does not use private funds.

“It’s been around a long time,” he said.

Trustees were set to take another vote on the matter on Feb. 1 after Haas asked that it be put back on the board’s agenda.

But Haas was unable to attend the meeting and neither Paape or Dohrwardt wanted to bring it back for another vote.

A matter can only be brought back to the board by a member of the prevailing side, in this case by one of those who voted no.

As a result, the deadline for applying for the grant passed. Jenkins said he’s not sure when it will be available again, if ever.

Haas, who also is an Ozaukee County supervisor and missed 12 of 23 of those meetings in the second half of 2022, said he is the owner of two businesses, that require him to travel frequently throughout eastern Wisconsin.





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