Stacey Abrams Defends Out-of-State Campaign Donations: Georgia Is a 'National State'

The state 'matters across the country,' the candidate for governor says

May 23, 2018

Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia Stacey Abrams on Wednesday defended her campaign from a report that two-thirds of her donations came from outside the state, arguing Georgia is a "national state."

Abrams, a proud liberal and self-described member of the "resistance," appeared on MSNBC to discuss her victory Tuesday night in the Democratic primary and her vision for Georgia. Host Hallie Jackson cited a recent article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that said Abrams received two-thirds of her campaign donations from outside of Georgia.

"What do you say to those who say you are being propped up by liberal Democrats outside of your own state?" Jackson asked.

Abrams initially brushed off the criticism by saying she also outraised her Democratic opponent Stacey Evans on the local level. She then justified her out-of-state political contributions by saying Georgia is a "national state."

"More importantly, Georgia is a national state. We have the busiest airport in the world and one of the largest ports in the country," Abrams said. "We are part of the national narrative. We are a locally grounded campaign that reached out to thousands of voters, but we're also nationally known because we know that Georgia matters across the country."

Not only did the Abrams campaign receive several donations from wealthy donors in New York and California, but she received $6,600 from Democratic megadonor and billionaire Tom Steyer at the end of March. Liberal billionaire George Soros's two children, Jonathan and Andrea, were also donors, according to her campaign's contribution disclosure report filed last month.

While it does not appear that Soros has directly donated to Abrams' gubernatorial campaign, he did write her political action committee, Georgia Next, Inc., a $500,000 check in 2014 to help her voter registration efforts, according to Atlanta Magazine.

These details are outlined in a pair of fundraising memos obtained by Atlanta magazine. Abrams has asked Democracy Alliance—a national progressive network of donors that Politico called the "closest thing the left has to the vaunted Koch brothers’ political network"—to donate up to $5.9 million for the New Georgia Project and contribute another $4.35 million for Voter Access Institute, a little-known progressive advocacy group she founded last year ... But the two requests are ones that, considering the funder’s secretive reputation, raise even more questions about the New Georgia Project, which has been criticized for its lack of transparency and its failure to live up to its expectations.

"She hasn’t been open and transparent," state Sen. Vincent Fort, another Democrat from Atlanta, told us. "Her funders don’t know where her money went. More importantly, the public doesn’t know where the money went." Mayor Kasim Reed has also questioned the need for the New Georgia Project.

"I don’t believe nor did I believe that the New Georgia Project is the model [for voter registration]," Reed told the Atlanta Journal Constitution last June. "I think that you have professional organizations that are experts at building the voter database in states, and I think that they should be a part of the overall political campaign.

The candidate headlined an event with a speech at the Democracy Alliance's spring conference in April that promoted the far-left policies of universal healthcare, free college, and reparations, the Washington Free Beacon reported. She has not publicly backed plans for universal health care or free college tuition, both policy positions supported by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). She has also not come out in support of reparations, a policy proposal that even Sanders has come out against.

Abrams will face either Casey Cagle or Brian Kemp, the two Republican candidates vying for the party's nomination, in the November general election. Cagle, the state's current lieutenant governor, and Kemp, Georgia's secretary of state, are heading to a July 24 runoff in the Republican primary.