Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams is out with a new ad that uses a "former deputy sheriff" to argue that Abrams's opponent is making the state "less safe." There's just one problem: That officer never served in Georgia.
In a July 12 ad titled "Dangerous," Abrams's leadership PAC, One Georgia, employs a "former deputy sheriff"—who is identified only as "Dennis"—to claim that Republican governor Brian Kemp "may talk tough" but "makes us less safe." But "Dennis" never patrolled the mean streets of Atlanta—or any Georgia street, for that matter. "Dennis" is LGBT attorney and Democratic activist Dennis Collard, a Florida native who worked as a police officer in the Sunshine State from 1994-1999, his LinkedIn shows. Collard—who, according to his LinkedIn, uses pronouns he/him—went on to join an Atlanta-based law firm in 2003, roughly 13 years before he founded his own divorce firm in Atlanta.
This is far from the first time Abrams has been forced to go out of state in search of political support. Just 14 percent of the $50 million she's raised for her campaign against Kemp came from Georgia residents. Nearly half of that money, meanwhile, came from Washington, D.C., California, New York, and Delaware. Abrams in May called Georgia "the worst state in the country to live."
Jackson County sheriff Janis Mangum, who is one of more than 100 Georgia sheriffs to endorse Kemp, said she was "not surprised at all" to hear that Abrams struggled to recruit a police officer who served in the Peach State.
"I'm not surprised by that at all when you've got someone who talks about defunding the police. Defunding the police would be the worst thing for anybody to do in our state—it's just absolutely ridiculous," Mangum told the Washington Free Beacon. "And for somebody to think like that, I don't know that you're going to have any law enforcement officers get behind you."
Abrams, who did not return a request for comment, has faced criticism over her role as a board member of the Marguerite Casey Foundation, which supports defunding police. Shortly after Abrams joined that board in May 2021, the foundation launched its "Answer the Uprising" initiative, which funds groups working to "transform, defund, [and] abolish police." The foundation has, for example, funneled $200,000 to the Louisville Community Bail Fund, which later paid $100,000 to free an anti-police activist charged with the attempted murder of a Jewish mayoral candidate.
Abrams has attempted to distance herself from the foundation by claiming she does not agree with its position on defunding police. According to the foundation's website, however, the group's "Answer the Uprising" initiative was "fully supported by Marguerite Casey Foundation's Board of Directors, which recently named seven new changemakers to the Board, including Stacey Abrams."
Prior to her political career, Abrams authored eight romance novels under the pen name Selena Montgomery. CBS in 2019 reached an agreement to turn one of those novels, Never Tell, into a TV drama. The 2004 romantic fiction book is heavy on both sex and sexual misconduct, a Free Beacon analysis found.
Abrams went on to serve as a state legislator and ran a failed campaign against Kemp in 2018. The Democrat lost by 2 points but never conceded defeat, instead calling the election "stolen" due to "voter suppression." Collard also filmed an ad for Abrams four years ago, filed a campaign finance complaint against Kemp in 2019, and contributed $500 to Abrams's campaign in March.