Going for Broke: Stacey Abrams's Campaign Can't Pay Staffers After Blowout Loss

Twice-failed Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams / Getty Images
December 19, 2022

Stacey Abrams's gubernatorial campaign can't afford to pay its employees and owes over $1 million to vendors, Axios reported Monday.

Abrams amassed over $100 million in her failed bid to unseat Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R.), but suffered cash flow issues in the final weeks of the campaign. Speaking to Axios, two-time Abrams campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo blamed the money problems on a "cavalcade of negative press and negative polling" in the final months of the campaign.

"We did not just lose, we got blown out," she told Axios. "It was the most sub-optimal situation to be in. And we will be dealing with that situation for some time."

The Abrams campaign has resorted to selling its donor and voter contact databases to pay down its debt, and it abruptly cut off salary payments to most of its 180 full-time staffers just one week after the November election. Former campaign staffers said they were shocked that Abrams couldn't pay their salaries after having raised so much money.

"I figured, $100 million? They should be able to pay me until December," a former Abrams staffer told Axios.

"People have told me they have no idea how they're going to pay their rent in January," said another former Abrams staffer, adding that the campaign's decision to stop paying employees "was messed up."

Squandering massive fundraising hauls is par for the course for groups associated with Abrams. The New Georgia Project, a voter registration group founded by Abrams that was tasked with expanding the non-white electorate in the Peach State, raised nearly $25 million in 2020, only to lay off half its leadership team in the weeks before the 2022 election due to a lack of funds, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

A former New Georgia Project executive told the Free Beacon that the group fired its top financial officer in late June after the officer said he couldn't do his job without violating the law. New Georgia Project is now over a month late in filing its 2021 finances to the IRS, and the charity continues to solicit donations without a license in at least nine states, opening itself up to massive fines and criminal inquiries.

Abrams also has a poor track record managing her own personal finances. During her first gubernatorial bid in 2018, she owed $54,000 in unpaid taxes to the IRS, on top of $170,000 in credit card and student loan debt. Abrams resolved those debts before launching her 2022 campaign.