By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Wisconsin conservative groups be advised: Secure Democracy is not a right-of-center organization.
The “nonpartisan” nonprofit that claims its mission is to “build confidence in our elections” is really just another well-funded, left-wing group that appears to run in the same circles as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s “safe and secure elections” groups.
Sources tell Empower Wisconsin that Secure Democracy representatives have been representing the group as a conservative establishment in reaching out to conservative groups around the country. The site’s home page features a photo of an American flag waving in the breeze, with the patriotic-sounding slogan, “Protecting Americans’ Freedom to Vote.”
But Secure Democracy has deep ties to left-leaning activists and law firms, including Perkins Coie, which booked $26 million in legal fees and expenses in 2016 representing the Democratic National Committee, Hillary for American and Obama for America. It’s also the law firm where liberal Josh Kaul collected a paycheck before becoming Wisconsin’s attorney general.
“The organization works exclusively on election policy advocacy, and supports expanding early voting, further utilization of mail-in ballot drop boxes, and reducing restrictions on absentee voting,” Influence Watch reports. “The organization’s website also states that it supports “Restoring voter eligibility to the thousands of Americans who have returned home from prison but do not have a voice in their communities.”
Sound familiar? It’s the same kind of liberal voting activist work that Zuckerberg and his wife funded to the tune of $420 million in the 2020 president election. As Wisconsin Spotlight has extensively reported, the Zuckerberg funded Center for Tech & Civic Life (CTCL) pumped more than $10 million in “safe and secure” election grant funding into Wisconsin, the vast majority of which went to the state’s five largest and Democrat-heavy cities. Emails show CTCL and its network of partners infiltrated election administration, helping to cure absentee ballots, oversee election night activities and lead local election get-out-the-vote efforts targeting Democratic voters.
Secure Democracy, founded in 2018, is led by a board of directors with a history in liberal activism.
“President Heather Smith previously spent 14 years working at Rock the Vote, a left leaning organizing group, serving as President and on the board of directors. She also spent five years working as an organizer at the Green Corps, a left-leaning environmentalist organization,” according to Influence Watch.
This is a liberal group with deep pockets. In 2019 Secure Democracy received $2.7 million in grants, according to Influence Watch.
In 2020 Secure Democracy received $700,00 from the Unite America PAC, a left-leaning hybrid PAC that claims to be centrist, but aligns very closely with left-leaning organizations and candidates.
In 2020, Secure Democracy also received a $1 million contribution from the North Star Fund, a left-leaning grant-making entity funded by a range of left-leaning foundations including George Soros’s Foundation to Promote Open Society and the Ford Foundation.
“In 2021, Secure Democracy paid Blue Mountain Strategies, a lobbying firm also used by Facebook and the Sixteen Thirty Fund, $30,000 for lobbying related to the “For the People Act” and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act,” Influence Watch reported. “The lobbyist retained by Secure Democracy was listed as Luke Albee, who also works as a legislative affairs consultant for Protect Our Care, a left-leaning front group created by the Sixteen Thirty Fund.”