Report: Stacey Abrams' Dark Money Group Raised $61M After Election Loss Georgia gubernatorial Democrat candidate Stacey Abrams speaks during a campaign rally on March 14 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
By Jason Clemons | Wednesday, 30 March 2022 04:38 PM
A group founded and led by Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams collected nearly $62 million in dark money donations in the initial two years following her 2018 gubernatorial defeat in Georgia, according to an investigative report from the Washington Examiner.
Citing tax documents pertaining to the donations, the Examiner reports that 96% of the $61.9 million raised during 2019 and 2020 — according to federal form 990 tax returns — came from only 252 unidentified, large-dollar donors.
According to Columbia Law School, the term "dark money" originally became commonplace within political circles in 2010. "It refers to campaign money whose sources are not disclosed. An expenditure — for example, for a television ad criticizing an opponent — will often be publicly reported to the FEC, but not the identities of the people, firms, or organizations that pay for it."
The Abrams-led group, Fair Fight Action, is registered as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit. It was founded in 2014, under the mission of promoting nonpartisan voter engagement.
However, according to the Examiner, the nonprofit altered its core directives after Abrams' defeat in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race. The group subsequently changed its name and "removed language from its bylaws that had prohibited it from participating or interfering in any political campaign, on behalf of any candidate for public office."
Following Georgia's 2018 gubernatorial race, for which Republican Brian Kemp garnered 50.2% of the general-election votes, Abrams' campaign and the Democratic Party of Georgia challenged Gov. Kemp's victory, alleging in a lawsuit that certain absentee ballots were "unlawfully rejected."
According to the Examiner, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group, has been monitoring the conduct of Fair Fight Action. FACT also requested an IRS investigation into the dark money group for "allegedly violating its nonprofit status to support Abrams's political career."
FACT Director Kendra Arnold told the Examiner: "Fair Fight's activities in 2019 were alarming, and FACT filed a complaint with the IRS that identified evidence the organization was not functioning as a social welfare organization to benefit the public, as a whole, but rather was being used for a political purpose and for the benefit of a single candidate."
The Examiner reports that Fair Fight Action characterized the allegations as "baseless."
According to the Examiner, Fair Fight Action cumulatively raised more than $95 million in 2019 and 2020, through its affiliated political action committee, Fair Fight PAC.
Fair Fight PAC also helped Georgia Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock raise campaign funds throughout 2020, leading up to their separate runoff-election victories as first-time U.S. senators in January 2021.
Abrams reportedly served as chair of Fair Fight Action from 2018-21. The 48-year-old will run for Georgia governor again this November. She qualified for ballot consideration a few weeks ago, and will participate in the state's Democratic primary on May 24.