Bloomberg reported that the Georgia Ethics Commission will move ahead with a case against two groups founded by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. The Commission asserted the groups likely violated one or more campaign laws by helping her first run for governor four years ago.
Bloomberg states that the “groups involved are The New Georgia Project, a voter registration non-profit Abrams founded in 2013, and an affiliate, the New Georgia Project Action Fund. The commission unanimously approved on Monday a series of motions saying that “reasonable grounds exist that New Georgia Project and New Georgia Project Action fund violated campaign finance law.””
The Commission is referred to as “Republican-dominated.” The action by the commission paves the way for “a final hearing and decision that could bring the biggest ethics fine in state history, just as the rematch between Abrams and Republican Governor Brian Kemp moves into its final three months.” See related embedded video: Stacey Abrams Vows To Change Abortion Rights In Georgia
The claims of the Commission, as related by the staff, alleges the groups raised $4.2 million and spent $3 million during Abrams’s 2018 campaign. The staff alleges that the two groups were acting as political committees, and that they hired canvassers to aggregate votes and do other activities in support of Abrams. State law requires political committees to register with the state and disclose their donors and expenses. Neither nonprofit did that.”
The Bloomberg reports the defenses raised by lawyers for the groups. “The New Georgia groups’ lawyers say the money raised was spent on operating expenses, and that the canvassing was done as a sub-contractor to a political committee working for Abrams, which disclosed it on its own filings with the state. They say that as subcontractors, the organizations didn’t have to disclose the spending themselves.”
Abrams campaign has called the investigation a years-long fishing expedition fueled by a Kemp supporter who is the commission’s executive director. Abrams is no longer involved with the nonprofits in an official capacity.
The Bloomberg statement concludes with the statements that the Ethics Commission had raised questions about the role of nonprofits before it hired David Emadi, a Kemp donor, as its director in 2019. Emadi turned up the heat, though, issuing a flurry of subpoenas since then. “Another organization targeted in the investigation, Gente4Abrams, was fined $50,000 in 2020 for failing to report its spending on Abrams’s behalf in the 2018 primary.”
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