The Georgia Ethics Commission has decided there is probable cause to move forward with a case against two Stacey Abrams-backed groups noting they possibly violated campaign finance laws, Bloomberg reports.
Georgia law states groups advocating for candidates must disclose contributions and expenditures regularly. The commissions approved motions saying The New Georgia Project and the New Georgia Project Action Fund violated laws and possibly raised and spent millions of dollars back in 2018 when Abrams first ran for Georgia’s governor’s seat.
The Republican-dominant body stated that each group raised $4.2 million and spent $3 million during Abrams’s 2018 campaign and should have registered as independent political committees and publicly disclosed the money.
As a rebuttal, the lawyers for the New Georgia Groups say the money was spent on operating expenses. The Atlanta-Constitution Journal also points out the groups say canvassing was done as a sub-contractor to a political committee working for Abrams, which disclosed it on its filings with the state.
The argument is because The New Georgia Project and Action Fund acted as sub-committees, they didn’t need to disclose money to the state. Lawyers from the commission fliers for Democratic candidates the project passed out trying to prove the groups weren’t acting as a nonprofit but was trying to influence voters.
If a determination goes against the groups after a judge gives their recommendation, it could result in one of the most considerable fines in state history. This is all before Georgians go to the polls in a couple of months to decide who their next governor will be.
The Chief legal officer of the New Georgia Project Action Fund, Aklima Khondoker, claims the organization has been unfairly targeted.
“Our organizations are being targeted for alleged transparency concerns with nothing but old tweets for evidence. “Meanwhile, allies of Brian Kemp created so-called leadership committees that can accept unlimited amounts from secret sources. In short, we’re not against accountability, but we are against hypocrisy.”
Khondoker is referring to a Kemp-backed change in campaign finance law allowing unlimited contributions to flow to “leadership committees.” Abrams filed suit for access to these types of committees, which Kemp has partaken in. New Georgia Project chair Francys Johnson is not surprised the commission decide to rule this way.
“Totally unsurprised,” Johnson said. “We’re not surprised that this commission has been weaponized to deter the work of the New Georgia Project, but make no mistake about it, we are resolved to continue the fight to make sure every Georgian can participate.”