Zuckerberg does not directly donate to progressive district attorney candidates. Rather, his cash flowed through two nonprofits before hitting a federal PAC, which then pushed it to state-level PACs to benefit candidates. The money has stumped reporters and observers in the past, who could not pinpoint where big amounts of cash were coming from for one such race in Oregon.
The tech billionaire's largesse joins other deep-pocketed donors, like George Soros, who intend to revamp the justice system.
The Facebook CEO's money trail begins at Chan Zuckerberg Advocacy, the political arm of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a foundation created by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.
In 2017, the advocacy arm provided a $10 million grant to the Accountable Justice Action Fund, a criminal justice fund that attempted to Open Philanthropy, the charitable vehicle of fellow Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife, Cari Tuna.
The following year, in 2018, the Oregon Law and Justice PAC spent almost $700,000 to support Max Wall, a progressive district attorney candidate who was at the time running in Washington County, Oregon. Whitney Tymas, who serves as treasurer for Soros' various criminal justice PACs, established the Oregon political action committee, filings submitted to the Oregon secretary of state show.
Though Wall's campaign denied that Soros was backing his candidacy. An unnamed source linked to Wall's TV ads, the Oregon Law & Justice PAC bankrolled, reiterated the denial.
"A person claiming to represent the New York public relations firm that scheduled Wall's TV ads said the money was not coming from Soros, but would not reveal the true identity," a local CBS affiliate reported.
More signs appeared after the election, which Wall ultimately lost.
Filings exposed that a federal PAC called Law and Justice took in $2 million almost completely from the Accountable Justice Action Fund, which does not reveal its funders. The Oregon Law and Justice PAC got its funding from the committee, filings show.
But Moskovitz's representatives also denied that his money was involved in the race.
"Dustin Moscovitz and the Open Philanthropy Project did not provide any funding for the Oregon election work; we are a minority of the overall funding to AJAF," a representative for the Open Philanthropy Project told Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Tax forms backup Moskovitz's representative.
A review of documents reveals that the Accountable Justice Action Fund garnered $17 million before the Oregon contest. Of that quantity, $6.3 million came from Moskovitz's Open Philanthropy Action Fund, according to its tax forms. That means Zuckerberg's $10 million in contributions from Chan Zuckerberg Advocacy makes his nonprofit the primary donor of the Accountable Justice Action Fund, which pushed the money to the PAC that fueled Wall's race.