Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is investigating a non-profit supported by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s regarding potential violations of state law.
Paxton issued a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) to the Center for Tech and Civil Life (CTCL) on Thursday to determine whether the group solicited donations under the pretext of protecting voters from COVID while instead using the funds to support partisan election efforts.
“Charities cannot mislead their donors and misrepresent the purpose of their fundraising,” Paxton said in a statement. “Further, in Texas, as in other states, it is the duty of state and county officials, accountable to the people of Texas, to ensure that elections are fair, safe, and free. That duty cannot be usurped by outside entities who are not chosen by and cannot be accountable to the people of Texas.”
The CTCL claims to be a non-partisan organization that helps “connect Americans with the information they need to become and remain civically engaged, and ensure that our elections are more professional, inclusive, and secure.” Founder and Executive Director Tiana Epps-Johnson served in the inaugural cohort of Obama Foundation Fellows and previously served as the election administration director for a progressive grassroots organization.
The press release from Paxton’s office stated that the CTCL received an estimated $350 million from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a philanthropy established by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. The CTCL claims to be helping election officials around the country to “safely administer” elections, but outside observers have noted that most of the group’s funding was sent to counties and precincts that overwhelmingly voted for Joe Biden.
Paxton’s investigation seeks to determine whether donors were deceived regarding the CTCL’s advertised purposes and hold the organization accountable for any possible wrongdoing.
The attorney general’s effort is not the first time Paxton has sought to investigate concerns related to Big Tech companies. In October, Paxton joined in an amicus brief before the Supreme Court to defend a Florida law designed to ensure that individuals aren’t silenced because social media platforms disagree with their opinion.
Earlier in October, Paxton also led a lawsuit by the state against Google over the company’s unauthorized use of biometric data in violation of the privacy rights of Texans. The lawsuit alleges that “Google collected millions of biometric identifiers, including voiceprints and records of face geometry, from Texans through its products and services like Google Photos, Google Assistant, and Nest Hub Max,” according to a press release from the attorney general’s office.