After raising $100 million to lose to Gov. Brian Kemp (R-Ga.) a second time, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ campaign is reportedly more than $1 million in debt and some staffers have been left wondering how “they’re going to pay their rent in January.”
Despite the machinations of the Democratic Party pulling out all of the stops for her, including turning Georgia into ground-zero for voter integrity laws and getting her a cameo as President of Earth on “Star Trek,” Abrams managed to underperform herself, falling nearly a quarter million votes shy of her 2018 loss margin. However, the disappointing outcome was far outweighed by the very real financial obligations that members of her campaign said couldn’t afford to be paid.
While pointing fingers as to why, Abrams’ 2018 and 2022 campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo confirmed to Axios more than $1 million remains outstanding to vendors. “Of course, I would have loved to do a lot of things differently,” she argued, thrusting some blame on an alleged “cavalcade of negative press and negative polling.”
“But I had to move as fast as possible.”
“We did not just lose, we got blown out,” the campaign manager asserted. “It was the most sub-optimal situation to be in. And we will be dealing with that situation for some time.”
“Sub-optimal” might be a bit of an understatement to staffers who spoke with Axios and contended, “People have told me they have no idea how they’re going to pay their rent in January. It was more than unfortunate. It was messed up.”
Groh-Wargo defended the actions of the campaign that saw weekly ad buys cut from as much as $3 million in early October down to less than $1 million by the end of the month, according to the outlet.
“We tried to do the best we could to make sure that help would be there for folks,” she added and said, “I was trimming everything we could.”
GBP News Stephen Fowler noted in a tweet that many of the Abrams campaign staffers “were given an abrupt paycheck cutoff date — just a week after the November election.”
“Abrams has been heralded for her fundraising prowess and had brought in donations at a presidential level earlier in the year. But money became so tight that most of the 180 full-time staffers were given an abrupt paycheck cutoff date — just a week after the November election.” https://t.co/I9Y9vU2Jlx
— stephen fowler (@stphnfwlr) December 19, 2022
While a staffer suggested, “I figured, $100 million? They should be able to pay me until December,” Georgia Democrat Chris Huttman explained to Axios that the end result was similar to 2018 and represented a “well-documented pattern.”
“She was running a campaign where there’s always been more money in the future that can fix the mistakes of the past,” Huttman said.
No matter the cause for the depleted war chest, one critic described the outcome, “Unacceptable on any campaign, but on one as well funded as Abrams it’s downright embarrassing. Groh-Wargo’s excuse is pathetic.”
Unacceptable on any campaign, but on one as well funded as Abrams it’s downright embarrassing.
Groh-Wargo’s excuse is pathetic. https://t.co/GMqbSnVKLp
— Zack Roday (@zackroday) December 19, 2022
That assessment doesn’t even begin to factor in the dark money connections that Abrams reportedly had which helped her secure nearly $62 million after initially losing to Kemp. Or the potential laws broken by the New Georgia Project, a nonprofit organization founded by Abrams, which had continued to fundraise in states across the country despite failing to file the necessary tax forms through the IRS to do so.
As National Legal and Policy Center counsel Paul Kamenar told the Washington Examiner on the day of the Georgia Senate runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and candidate Hershel Walker (R), “The New Georgia Project is facing multiple enforcement actions for illegal fundraising nationwide not only for their failure to file current Form 990 IRS reports with various state agencies but also possible misuse of nonprofit assets.”
Warnock also had been a leader of the group which, like Abrams’s campaign, allegedly found itself strapped for cash in October and fired half of its leadership.
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