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‘Bidenbucks’ Stink Emanates From Leftist Group’s Voter Drive In Milwaukee Schools

The Milwaukee initiative has all the markings of ‘Bidenbucks,’ an executive order that threatens to transform federal agencies into a get-out-the-vote machine for Democrats.

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Just 16 percent of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) students can read and write at grade level. Only 12 percent are proficient in math in the swing state of Wisconsin’s largest school district. 

So why on earth is MPS prioritizing work with a Democrat-aligned activist organization aimed at turning out to the polls the 18-year-old students MPS has for so long failed? Why is the anti-voter ID group VoteRiders working with MPS faculty designated as “Voter Champions” to register MPS students and their families to vote? 

Naked politics. And familiar politics at that, according to Dave Craig, a senior legal fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability. 

“It’s relatively the same type of scheme as Zuckerbucks,” said Craig, a former Wisconsin state senator, referring to the hundreds of millions of dollars handed out in so-called “safe election” grants to election administrators by the leftist Center for Tech and Civic Life. “I think it’s certainly something the legislature should be looking at.” 

Milwaukee’s left-led young voter drive may arguably be more nefarious than the buckets of money Facebook founder and conservative silencer Mark Zuckerberg dumped into the 2020 election administration. The MPS initiative has all the markings of what Craig calls “Bidenbucks,” President Joe Biden’s executive order that threatens to transform federal agencies into a get-out-the-vote machine for Democrats.

In this case, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service — the agency that funds hot lunches and other meals in K-12 schools — could very well be in on the young voter initiative. 

‘Every School has a Voter Champion’ 

Like most states, Wisconsin law permits pre-registration of eligible voters before they turn 18. The Badger State has long emphasized civic engagement and the importance of voting in its schools. 

But Milwaukee Public Schools has again taken those core democratic principles to a patently partisan — and possibly illegal —  level. The school district has joined forces with the California-based VoteRiders and the League of Women Voters to register high school students who will turn 18 by election day to vote. A faculty member at each school is tapped to serve as “Voter Champion” to assist those 18 or approaching 18 who don’t have a photo ID. The school employee, on the taxpayer’s dime, connects the student with a representative from the leftist VoteRiders. 

“Every school has a person called a ‘Voter Champion,’ a faculty member who’s in charge of the voter education process at their school. So, if a student comes to register to vote but doesn’t have an ID, then the Voter Champion will put them [sic] in touch with VoteRiders, and VoteRiders can help them get that ID,” Jennie Ekstein, a social studies curriculum specialist at MPS, told the nonprofit in an interview published on the organization’s website. 

The effort was reportedly being considered in late 2022. An MPS Board resolution in December of that year notes “opportunities for all qualified staff to become Voter Champions within their school communities to support eligible students to vote before they graduate.” 

The resolution then goes on to note several left-leaning groups that would be invited to work with the district on the initiative, including the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, Souls to the Polls, and the League of Women Voters

In the interview, Eckstein notes Wisconsin curriculum regulations about civic engagement. But those regulations don’t include partisan organizations registering and “educating” students on how to vote. 

Leftist Ride 

VoteRiders bills itself as “the nation’s leading voting rights organization focused on the issue of voter ID,” providing free ID assistance “so that every eligible voter can cast a ballot that counts.” The nonprofit is among a legion of Democrat-aligned activist groups fighting myriad election integrity laws, especially voter ID provisions they claim are “wreaking havoc” on democracy. 

VoteRiders was established in 2012 by Kathleen Unger, who has a long history of donations to Democrats and leftist organizations. That list of beneficiaries includes Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and the Progressive Patriots Fund. VoteRiders is funded by well-known contributors to the dark money funding networks that spread more than $1.4 billion per year over activist organizations around the country. 

Jake Spence, a hard-core operative who serves as state VoteRiders’ Wisconsin coordinator, boasted about his organization’s efforts last year to bring Democrats out to vote in the state’s critical state Supreme Court election. The leftist candidate was elected, tipping control of the court back to the left. 

“We partnered with the League of Women Voters and the Milwaukee Election Commission to contact voters who cast a provisional ballot due to lack of ID, helping them ‘cure’ their ballots and make them count,” Spence bragged. Milwaukee’s suspect elections commission worked closely with leftist voting activist groups as part of the Zuckerbucks grants in 2020. 

VoteRiders representatives did not return multiple requests for comment.  

The Federalist asked an MPS official for comment, including on the question of what district resources are being used in the young voter registration campaign. Stephen Davis, an MPS media relations manager, earlier said he would follow up with answers. He has not done so. 

Bidenbucks 

Davis also didn’t answer questions about the apparent connections to Biden’s Executive Order 14019. Signed within months of the Democrat’s narrow victories in battleground states including Wisconsin that won him the 2020 presidential election thanks to Zuckerbucks and other leftist shenanigans, the EO is benignly painted as “promoting access to voting.” It’s ultimately designed to employ government to recruit voters for one political party.

As Tarren Bragdon, president of the Foundation for Government Accountability, wrote in a 2022 column in The Federalist, the order “directs all federal agencies to do what they can to increase voter registration and turnout, including by working with a select group of third-party organizations ‘approved’ by the White House.”

“Sounds harmless on its face, until you consider the fact that it is being carried out by political appointees whose job security literally depends on Democrats being reelected in 2022 and 2024, and that the person charged with collecting the plans and leading this effort is President Joe Biden’s domestic policy advisor, Susan Rice,” Bragdon wrote. 

The FGA has been fighting for nearly three years for more information on the federal agencies’ GOTV efforts, but the Biden administration has refused to turn over the public records. 

One of the agencies that appears solidly on board the “BidenBucks” train is the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. The administrator of school lunches “encourages all state agencies administering the child nutrition programs to provide local program operators with promotional materials, including voter registration and non-partisan, non-campaign election information, to disseminate among voting-age program participants and their families.”

Suggested actions include “school food authorities administering the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in high schools… to promote voter registration and election information among voting-age participants and use congregate feeding areas, such as cafeterias, or food distribution sites, as sites for the dissemination of information.”

It’s not the job of the Food and Nutrition Service, or any federal agency for that matter, to operate get-out-the-vote campaigns. Legal experts say using the executive branch of the federal government this way is tantamount to election interference — what Biden and fellow Democrats accuse former President Donald Trump of doing. 

Davis, the MPS official, did not respond when asked whether the school district is working with federal agencies.

‘Deeply Problematic’ 

The Milwaukee Public School System has been down this road before. Nearly a year ago, Milwaukee conservative talk show host Dan O’Donnell broke the story that MPS was running an initiative “requiring all high schools compile a list of 18-year-old students (and those who will turn 18 by Election Day) and then turn that information over to a liberal activist group.”

The list looked to be in “violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as well as MPS’s own policies prohibiting the release of student information and political activity by staff members,” O’Donnell reported. 

MPS and its partners may find themselves on shaky legal ground once again. The Wisconsin election bribery statute declares any person who “[o]ffers, gives, lends or promises to give or lend, or endeavors to procure, anything of value…in order to induce any elector to: 1) Go to or refrain from going to the polls; 2) Vote or refrain from voting; 3) Vote or refrain from voting for or against a particular person”  is violating the law. Anything of value includes “any amount of money, or any object which has utility independent of any political message it contains and the value of which exceeds $1.”

While IDs to vote in Wisconsin are free, VoteRiders’ offer to “request and pay” for documents required to vote and to “pay the DMV fees for your ID” might just violate the statute, Craig from the Foundation for Government Accountability said. Similar provisions apply under federal statute.

“President Biden’s executive order has stretched its tentacles into nearly everything the federal government touches, and now we have evidence it’s reaching into schools,” Craig said. “The Biden order allows activist groups to gain access to public spaces and resources to engage in political activity. That’s bad enough when it’s targeting adults in welfare offices, hospitals, and prisons. But allowing activists to target high schoolers in their place of learning shows this administration will do anything to keep power.”

State Sen. Dan Knodl, a southeast Wisconsin Republican who chairs the Senate’s Elections and Consumer Protection Committee, said MPS’s partnership with leftist groups is “disturbing for sure,” but he’s not surprised. He said there’s no question where VoteRiders’ and the League of Women Voters’ interests lie. 

Knodl said he will reach out to MPS to see whether they’re including any non-leftist groups in the young voter initiative. The senator said it’s all the more troubling the vast majority of students in the Milwaukee public school system can barely read and add.

“This is deeply problematic, yet indicative of what we see at MPS versus concentrating on reading, writing, and arithmetic and bringing up those test scores,” Knodl said. 


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