Abrams-founded voting rights group to probe potential ‘incorrect’ payments to consultants
The political arm of a voting rights group founded by Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said on Friday that it would launch an investigation into whether it incorrectly paid consultants.
The announcement came in response to the publication of a Fox News report describing Fair Fight PAC’s payments of consulting fees to three individuals who had personal connections to the group’s director. There is no suggestion of legal wrongdoing.
In a statement, Fair Fight PAC said it “became aware that PAC funds may have been incorrectly paid to consultants” a day earlier and that it would immediately begin its probe.
“Our first priority is to organize collective efforts to educate voters, which we will not lose sight of throughout this internal investigation,” the group said. “Fair Fight values transparency and accountability and will face any potential missteps head on.”
The disclosure comes in the final stretch Abrams’ rematch with Republican Brian Kemp, who defeated her to become governor in a close 2018 contest that, both during and after the campaign, saw Abrams raise questions over the integrity of the state’s voting laws and Kemp’s decision to stay on as its secretary of state while running for higher office. When Abrams acknowledged defeat following a brief court battle, she also announced the launch of Fair Fight.
Two years later, Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump by fewer than 12,000 votes statewide, becoming the first Democrat since Bill Clinton nearly three decades earlier to win Georgia in a presidential race. In January 2021, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated a pair of incumbent Republican senators in a runoff to deliver their party control of the US Senate. Warnock is up for re-election in November.
Fair Fight PAC, which was established in 2019, is an offshoot of Fair Fight Action, the non-profit organization doing advocacy work in Georgia. Its PAC works with Democrats around the country and supports political candidates.
The Abrams campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to the Fox News report, the Fair Fight PAC paid more than $178,000 combined to the three individuals. CNN’s review of FEC filings from the 2019-20 and 2021-22 election cycles, put the figure higher, at roughly $250,000 in total.
“Abrams’ favorite slush fund has been caught red-handed funneling hundreds of thousands in salary to family and friends who have no connection to the organization’s stated purpose,” Kemp campaign press secretary Tate Mitchell said in a statement responding to the story. “This kind of behavior is deeply concerning and makes it abundantly clear that voters can’t trust Stacey Abrams.”
Fair Fight Action was most recently in the news following the end of its long, post-2018 court battle over Georgia election law. A federal court in September ruled against the group’s claims that multiple facets of the state’s restrictive election administration laws violated voters’ constitutional rights.
Abrams, in a series of tweets following the decision, pointed to the wording of the court order as evidence that her fundamental argument – that Georgia law had a suppressive effect on voters of color – had been confirmed and said she planned to build on the momentum created by the publicity of the case if she was elected in November.
“As governor, I will expand the right to vote. I will defend minority voters, not bemoan their increased power or grow ‘frustrated’ by their success,” Abrams tweeted. “This case demonstrates that the 2022 election will be a referendum on how our state treats its most marginalized voices.”