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Elections

Stacey Abrams Accuses Ethics Commission of ‘Political Vendetta’ for Lawsuit Against Her Gubernatorial Campaign

Stacey Abrams speaks to supporters in Atlanta, Ga., November 7, 2018. (Lawrence Bryant/Reuters)

The failed Georgia gubernatorial campaign of Stacey Abrams is accusing the state ethics commission of having a “political vendetta” after the commission filed a lawsuit demanding the campaign’s personal records.

The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission informed Abrams’s 2018 campaign that the commission is suing it, Abrams’s former campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said in a string of tweets slamming the lawsuit.

Groh-Wargo, who is now CEO of Fair Fight Action, Abrams’s national campaign against voter suppression, pointed out that commission head David Emadi donated to Abrams’s opponent Governor Brian Kemp. Emadi is now running a “Kemp Revenge Commission,” Groh-Wargo charged.

The former campaign manager insisted the campaign’s personal communications and bank records are “irrelevant to his bogus and politically motivated investigation,” saying the probe is based on “accusations seemingly made up out of thin air.”

The commission is investigating “unlawful coordination” between the Abrams campaign and a number of groups including the New Georgia Voter Project and Fair Count, which worked to expand voting access.

Meanwhile, Kemp was Georgia’s secretary of state during the 2018 midterms and enforced one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country while he was running against Abrams in the governor’s race.

“[T]he Commission has reason to believe that a third party group gave a substantial amount of money directly to New Georgia Project, and those funds were then used throughout the course of the 2018 election to make independent expenditures that expressly advocated election or defeat of Stacey Abrams,” the lawsuit against the Abrams campaign states.

The campaign said it has already answered questions in the probe and provided access to more than 3,600 pages of financial records.

“If civic organizations that engage voters of color are made victims of retribution by a governor who presided over his own election and silenced the voices of those same voters, the State of Georgia would resemble a Jim Crow-style Banana Republic,” Groh-Wargo said.

Emadi has pushed back on allegations that his commission’s investigation of the Abrams campaign is politically motivated, saying the campaign simply “refused to comply with lawfully issued subpoenas.”

“Our agency is a non-partisan agency that does not work for or report to any elected official in Georgia in any manner whatsoever. Any claims to the contrary are false,” Emadi said.

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