How Stacey Abrams Helped Funnel Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars to an Israel-Hating Terrorist Sympathizer

Stacey Abrams
Stacey Abrams / Getty Images
June 14, 2022

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams sits on the board of a foundation that funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to an anti-Israel activist who has praised terrorists and encouraged violence against Jews.

Abrams joined the Marguerite Casey Foundation board in May 2021, business filings show. Roughly six months later, the foundation announced its 2021 cohort of "Freedom Scholars," a group of "leading thinkers and scholars … in critical fields including abolitionist, Black, feminist, queer, radical, and anti-colonialist studies." Included in the group was UCLA professor Robin D.G. Kelley, a leading Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activist who works with groups that collaborate with Palestinian terrorists.

Kelley, who received $250,000 through the program, praised the Palestine Liberation Organization—a U.S.-designated terror group—as "revolutionary combatants" and "models for those of us dedicated to Black liberation and socialism" in a 2016 article. Three years prior, Kelley encouraged Palestinians to use violence against Israelis, calling the notion that Palestinians should only protest non-violently a "bludgeon to beat down Palestinian organizations." Kelley also advises the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, a group that operates to advance the BDS movement on college campuses. The campaign's fiscal sponsor, Al-Awda, works with Palestinian terrorist organizations such as Hamas to grow BDS and routinely hosts convicted Islamic jihadists at its events, the Jerusalem Post reported in 2019.

Abrams’s role in funding Kelley provides a startling window into how the Democrat could handle the BDS movement and larger issues of anti-Semitism on Georgia’s college campuses should she defeat Gov. Brian Kemp (R.) in November. As governor, Abrams would appoint members to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, which oversees the state’s public colleges and universities. Georgia legislators passed a law in 2016 that forbids the state from contracting a person or company that promotes a boycott of Israel, but a federal judge struck that law down in May 2021. Abrams opposed the law as a state representative and reportedly refused to meet with pro-Israel activists at the time.

It is unclear whether Abrams was directly involved with the grant to Kelley. When she joined the foundation's board in 2021, she emphasized that a major part of her role would be determining "how the philanthropic network targets its contributions." Neither Abrams nor the foundation responded to inquiries on her involvement with the Freedom Scholars program. Abrams has earned more than $52,000 from the foundation since 2020, her financial disclosures show. 

In addition to Kelley's anti-Israel activism, the professor has called himself a "communist for life" and argued that capitalism is inherently racist. The Marguerite Casey Foundation also awarded $250,000 to a pair of academics—Angelica Chazaro and Ananya Roy—who advocate for the abolition of prisons and private property, respectively. 

In May 2021, the foundation launched its "Answer the Uprising" initiative, which aims to fund groups working to "transform, defund, [and] abolish" police. The initiative was "fully supported by Marguerite Casey Foundation’s Board of Directors, which recently named seven new changemakers to the Board, including Stacey Abrams," the foundation said in a press release. One year before Abrams decided to join the group's board, the foundation gave $200,000 to the Louisville Community Bail Fund, which later paid $100,000 to free Quintez Brown, an anti-police activist charged with the attempted murder of a Jewish mayoral candidate.

Abrams ran unopposed in Georgia's May primary election and will face Kemp in November after the Republican defeated Trump-backed challenger and former senator David Perdue by 52 points in his own primary bid. Her campaign against Kemp is not her first—the Democrat lost to Kemp by roughly 2 points in 2018 but never conceded defeat, instead arguing the election was "stolen" due to "voter suppression." After her loss, Abrams launched a nonprofit "voting rights" group that sued Georgia's secretary of state to challenge the validity of the election. That lawsuit blasted the state's use of "unreliable" voting machines and even alleged the machines "switched" votes from Abrams to Kemp.