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Indiana Elections Chief Threatens ‘Bidenbucks’ Agencies, Walks Back CISA ‘Partnership’

Secretary of State Diego Morales threatened legal action if federal agencies continue unauthorized ‘Bidenbucks’ efforts in Indiana.


Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales is threatening legal action if federal agencies following President Joe Biden’s “Bidenbucks” order operate unauthorized election programs in the state. Morales said this is a part of his pushback against federal overreach.

“I already talked to the attorney general, and he has the highest authority in our state. He will obviously enforce that,” Morales said in an interview with The Federalist, adding that election integrity is his “top priority.”

On July 2, Morales sent a letter directing agencies to refrain from conducting taxpayer-funded voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities designed to benefit Democrats. Morales’ Communications Director Lindsey Eaton told The Federalist that he would refer any violations of the order to the attorney general’s office.

“When they start getting involved in elections, whether it’s CISA or the SBA [Small Business Administration] or any other federal government, that’s a no for me,” Morales said. It’s a shift in tone from when the Republican secretary met with the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in May and issued a positive press release touting the meeting and the secretary’s “Collaboration on Election Safety Efforts” with “local, state, and federal agencies.”

‘Not Permitted In Indiana’

Biden issued an executive order in 2021 directing federal agencies to register voters and push get-out-the-vote measures that are calibrated to target left-leaning voters. It also enables the government to work with approved “third party” groups to these ends. When federal agencies carry out this order, they circumvent state governments, according to Morales’ office. 

“The warning letter comes in response to a broad executive order from President Biden directing federal agencies to engage in election activity, which would be contrary to state law as well as Congressional authorization and funding,” reads a press release from Morales’ office. “Voter registration and other election activity is not permitted in Indiana without state authorization.”

Biden’s election order has taken the nickname “Bidenbucks,” a nod to when Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in “Zuckbucks” to election officials, boosting Democrat turnout in the 2020 election. Many Republican states have addressed “Zuckbucks” by banning private funding of elections. 

In response to Biden’s executive order, which functions similarly to “Zuckbucks” but uses taxpayer dollars, some states are protecting the integrity of their elections by asserting their jurisdiction under Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. Eaton said Morales is “sending this letter to every federal agency office in Indiana” as a “preemptive measure.”

“What we’ve been doing is not only pushing back, but testifying before Congress, sending out letters against the federal government, and we’re passing good legislation with House Bill 1264, and House Bill 1334, in order to put in some great safeguards to protect elections,” Morales told The Federalist.

Among other things, HB 1264 cracks down on voter registrations with nonresidential addresses and those for which there is evidence that a registrant is not a citizen (such as juror disqualification). HB 1334 requires that absentee ballots must be requested and only provided with proper identification.

‘Contrary to State Law’

Voter registration drives like those the federal Small Business Administration has conducted in neighboring Michigan fall outside of the agency’s authorized scope in the state, according to the press release from Morales’ office. 

“Voter registration drives orchestrated by the Small Business Administration, though well-meaning, were not authorized by Congress, contrary to state law, and a distraction from the agency’s core mission of providing assistance and loans to small businesses,” the release reads.

Morales testified to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Small Business Committee June 4, citing state law and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to inform them the SBA would be stepping outside of its role.

“Government agencies must be designated by the state as ‘designated voter registration service agencies’ to lawfully engage in voter registration activities,” Morales testified. “The SBA is not, at either the president’s directive, or its own initiative, eligible to act as a voter service agency in Indiana.”

Eaton said Morales’ letter arrives before any known federal voter registration in Indiana, and was spurred by SBA’s memorandum of understanding with neighboring Michigan. Last week’s press release said that while “Bidenbucks” agencies are directed to “immediately discontinue such action and contact” Morales’ office, he is “open to coordinating with federal agencies, subject to compliance with federal and state law.”

Morales said his office’s Business Services Division may sometimes work with the SBA in things like loans for Indiana businesses, but federal agencies should stick to their own missions. Morales made clear he would not work with the SBA in elections.

“I would not sign an MOU,” Morales said to The Federalist. “I’m not going to work with them when it comes to elections, because they have no business to get involved in elections.”

What About CISA?

In May, Morales met with Jen Easterly, director of CISA, the federal government’s “nerve center” of censorship operations. CISA has worked with Big Tech corporations to silence Americans since 2020. A congressional report from last fall found it had become a “domestic intelligence and speech-police agency” whose behavior was “unconstitutional.”

In a press release at the time, Morales’ office said partnering with different agencies is “crucial to protecting the integrity of elections and increasing voter confidence.” For her part, Easterly said she would “look forward to our continued partnership as we work together to ensure the security and resilience of our election infrastructure.”

At the time, Morales’ office declined The Federalist’s request for comment on the meeting. On Tuesday, Morales said CISA reached out to his office for a meeting, so he met to listen and be diplomatic.

“I just listen. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to do what they say or what they want. In fact, when I met with them last time, I asked them tough questions,” Morales told The Federalist. “As far as CISA goes, I know who they are, I know what they are, but my job as secretary of state is to listen and grill them with questions and ask them, ‘You’re not going to interfere in elections?'”

When The Federalist followed up to ask for more specifics about the “tough questions” Morales asked, Eaton said Morales had “answered your questions” and that he “will always push back against federal overreach on any level.”

Morales said The Federalist’s previous coverage of his meeting with CISA officials was “misleading.” When asked for specific inaccuracies, Eaton did not point out any. Morales asked that this article correct past coverage to communicate that he is a “hard conservative” and a “protector of our elections.”

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