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Georgia probe of Stacey Abrams-tied group ongoing with fight over subpoenaed documents

New Georgia Project appealed ruling ordering it to turn over records that may show "illegal campaign activities."

Updated: April 13, 2021 - 8:08am

A Georgia ethics commission is continuing its probe of "potential illegal campaign activities" by a voter mobilization group formerly run by Stacey Abrams, Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2018, an official told Just the News.

The New Georgia Project appealed a Gwinnett County Superior Court ruling that ordered the group to "comply with previously issued subpoenas" from the Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, Executive Director David Emadi wrote in an email.

Just the News sought an update from the commission on the status of its investigation following a January ruling that the New Georgia Project had to turn over bank records. The commission accused the voter group of advocating for Abrams' election in 2018 against Republican Gov. Brian Kemp "without registering as a campaign committee or filing disclosures showing how much it raised or spent," according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"The case remains in appeal at this time pending its next hearing on the matter," Emadi wrote. He said he couldn't share any results of "any investigation thus far" because litigation is continuing.

Neither the commission nor New Georgia Project responded to queries asking for the latter's appeals filing.

Judge Warren Davis had cited evidence from the commission that the New Georgia Project and its sibling Action Fund solicited contributions and made expenditures to promote Abrams, among other candidates. Expenditures included "canvassing activities, literature expressly advocating for the election of candidates, and operating field offices where these electioneering activities were coordinated."

Nse Ufot, CEO of the voter group, called the investigation "another continuation of a baseless partisan attack on a grassroots organization" following the ruling. The New Georgia Project noted that Emadi donated $600 to Kemp in 2018, and the Democrat and Republican are likely to face off again in 2022's gubernatorial election.

"There is nothing ethical about this partisan inquiry, and they should be ashamed," Ufot said.

Last month, the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that a different judge had the authority to decide whether to enforce the commission's subpoenas against the Abrams campaign and New Georgia Project for alleged illegal coordination.

The parties sparred at a hearing last year. The voter group said it had already turned over 4,000 documents "showing checks, wire transfers, bank records and campaign transactions" and accused the commission of going fishing for personal emails and other unrelated documents, the Journal-Constitution reported.

The New Georgia Project and its action fund did not report in spending disclosures that it hired canvassers, sought donations and sent mass emails supporting Abrams, a state lawyer argued.

The Abrams campaign retorted that those activities and emails didn't show "direct communications" suggesting illegal coordination, and that the commission needs to show "reasonable grounds to believe" campaign finance laws were violated in order to go beyond its preliminary investigation.

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