Rhodes-Conway: Madison hasn’t applied for outside money to help cover 2022 election costs

The Madison mayor's comments come after a judge ruled cities could accept outside funds

MADISON, Wis. — Madison’s mayor said the city is not seeking outside funds to help run the 2022 election, hours after a Dane County judge ruled Madison and other cities that accepted those funds in 2020 were allowed to do so.

“We have not applied for another round of a grant,” Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said. “The concern was during the height of the pandemic … and I think we’re having a little bit less concern now.”

Just hours before, Dane County Judge Stephen Ehlke ruled in her favor, saying cities like Madison that took funds from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a nonprofit group associated with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, did not break Wisconsin law in doing so.

That had been a rallying cry for some conservatives who alleged fraud took place during the 2020 election — that funds from the CTCL, which initially went to the state’s five largest cities, were an illegal contribution to Democrats. A federal court, and now a state court, ruled that the funds to those cities were acceptable. In an additional round of funding, more than 100 Wisconsin municipalities also received CTCL funding.

“This language is not currently in any Wisconsin statute, nor was it in the lead up to the November 2020 election,” Ehlke ruled from the bench. “Quite obviously, the Legislature introduced this bill because nothing in existing law in existing Wisconsin law prohibited these things.”

Ehlke referenced a bill that would outlaw cities from taking private funds to help run elections. The bill passed the Republican-controlled Legislature, but Gov. Tony Evers vetoed it in April. The bill would likely come back if Evers loses reelection in the fall.

“I think today’s decision from the judge just shows clearly what we’ve known all along, which is that the November 2020 election was conducted fairly and safely for everyone,” Rhodes-Conway said. “It’s a settled matter and we should be moving on.”

News 3 Now reached out to the lawyer representing the plaintiffs challenging how Madison used the funds but did not hear back by Wednesday evening.