Stacey Abrams’ newly acquired wealth and ‘unique’ business relationships under scrutiny

Despite repeated denials of impropriety, Georgia Democrat and 2022 gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams remains under close scrutiny after a recent investigation from the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) found she may have used her position in government to financially benefit herself and her associates.

Known for her continued refusal to concede the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race and aspiring to be president before the year 2040, Abrams, the one-time state House Minority Leader, has reportedly done quite well for herself in the last four years. As part of her campaign, Abrams’ March 2022 financial disclosure form reported her net worth to be approximately $3.17 million, a considerable improvement from her 2018 election bid where she reported being worth a mere $109,000.

While it has been argued that her financial gains can be attributed to her book deals and speaking engagements, previous reporting from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) in conjunction with documents obtained by the GAI through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, suggests the matter is not so cut and dry.

In 2010, the same year that Abrams was elected to be Minority Leader, she cofounded NOWaccount with Lara Hodgson and John Hayes. Rebranded NOW Corp., Abrams’ company in which she owned a 16 percent stake was a financial technology company with a mere $100,000 in 2013.

According to Jason Chaffetz, a Fox News contributor and a distinguished fellow with GAI, “NOWaccount’s model was to purchase receivables from businesses that have not yet been paid for service provided. NOWaccount provided the business with cash in return for the right to collect funds due, charging the business a fee. The financial success of Abrams’ company was, in part, based on minimizing the number of customers that defaulted on the loans.”

However, her company, which she reportedly “walled [herself] off” from, had formed a unique arrangement with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) that it was unable to replicate in any other state. The documents obtained by GAI show that Abrams was an integral part of the application process for the government-backed small business loan program.

“The unique relationship with the Georgia DCA,” Chaffetz wrote, “put taxpayers on the hook for loans approved by NOWaccount that were not paid. This benefitted NOWaccount’s bottom line and Abrams’ investment in the company.”

One of her business partners even admitted the federal loan program “allows us to scale faster because the government is in the first-loss position, not our lenders,” and thus NOWaccount would be reimbursed with taxpayer funds after loans defaulted.

The program was terminated by the Georgia DCA in 2017, the same year that Abrams’s tenure as Minority Leader ended. Having been garnering a salary of $60,000 per year from NOWaccount as an employee, that arrangement ended in 2016 ahead of her run for 2018 governor.

Now, just prior to her December 2021 announcement that she would be seeking office again, NOW Corp. acquired $29 million from a private equity firm in October. The NOW Corp website does not list Abrams at all in their “About Us” section, nor is she mentioned as a member of their management team.

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Kevin Haggerty

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