Stacey Abrams Sues To Get Unlimited Fundraising Commission

ATLANTA (AP) — Democrat Stacey Abrams filed suit Monday asking a federal judge to give a commission involved in her campaign for governor the immediate right to begin raising and spending unlimited funds, according to Georgia’s law.

Abrams is challenging a new kind of fundraising committee created by Georgian lawmakers last year as unconstitutional. This is called a leadership committee and allows certain people and groups to accept unlimited contributions. Giving to direct candidate committees is limited to $7,600 each for the primary and general elections and $4,500 for every second election.

By law, the governor and the lieutenant governor, who oppose the major party nominees, and both party caucuses in the state house and senate can form the committees. The committees, unlike most other political action committees, can coordinate with candidate campaigns.

Abrams argues that because no one applied to run against her in the May 24 Democratic primary, and because no registration voting is allowed, she became the Democratic nominee when qualifiers closed. State Democratic Party chairman Nikema Williams, also a US representative, agrees, saying the party recognizes Abrams as its flag bearer for the Nov. 8 general election.

But Abrams said in pleadings in court that when an attorney contacted the state’s ethics committee to confirm that its leadership committee could begin raising and spending money by May 24, a committee attorney said he needed to seek legal advice from Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger whether state law considers Abrams to be the nominee.

After signing into law, Kemp formed the Georgians First Leadership Committee, raising $2.3 million through January. Abrams said her commission, called One Georgia, raised an undisclosed amount.

Abrams called the law unconstitutional in court records, labeling it a “ill-designed, albeit powerful, incumbent protection scheme” that benefited Kemp.

So claimants are competing to raise money with one hand tied behind their backs compared to Gov. Kemp, who basically has two campaign committees — one of which can raise unlimited funds while looking ahead to a competitive state election in the main swing state in the nation.”

David Emadi, executive secretary of the ethics body, which is rightly called the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, said the committee does not determine whether someone is a party candidate or not.

Campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo pushed for a temporary injunction allowing the campaign to raise and spend money from One Georgia, arguing in court papers that “every hour lost is an hour never to return” in a campaign.

The leadership committees were already a subject of legal battle in the Republican primaries. Former US Senator David Perdue filed a lawsuit in federal court, saying Kemp’s commission gave the incumbent an unfair advantage.

U.S. District Judge Mark Cohen ruled in February that Kemp could not spend more money from the commission during the primaries, although he could continue to withdraw money for the general election. That was only a temporary ruling, as Perdue’s lawsuit continued to challenge Kemp’s commission as unconstitutional. Kemp is appealing the ruling.

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