Georgia has entered a new era of “Wild West” campaign financing, and Stacey Abrams has proven to be its most effective beneficiary.
Driving News: Georgia’s new “steering committees” — fundraising entities not subject to state campaign donation limits — were established by Republicans.
Why it matters: The state bill, which Kemp signed last summer, ushered in a new era of campaign strategy in Georgia. Now, campaign fundraising from wealthy donors is essentially freed from traditional restrictions.
- Most importantly, these leadership committees are unrestricted in their ability to coordinate directly with campaigns.
by numbers: The largest contributions to Abrams’ committee are $2.5 million from a George Soros-backed group and $1.5 million from the PAC of the voting policy advocacy group Abrams founded, Fair Fight Action.
- In previous election cycles, when campaign donations from either committee were capped at $7,600, a group like Fair Fight would not be able to directly support a campaign-controlled entity on an unrestricted basis.
Now, not only has Fair Fight’s PAC contributed to One Georgia, but One Georgia, in turn, receives tens of thousands of dollars worth of Fair Fight staff time for their campaign committee work.
- Contributors include a host of Hollywood names, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, as well as Melinda Gates and national unions including the IBEW.
Other side: Kemp’s leadership committee received its largest contribution directly from Kemp’s campaign account, followed by a Kemp-aligned Super PAC and national conservative donor Elizabeth Uihlein. The committee spent much of its money on advertising and propaganda expenses.
💭 Axios political reporter Lachlan Markay’s thought bubble: “The success of the Abrams leadership committee has flipped the script for political fundraising.
- Nationally, Republicans tend to rely on independent political groups funded by high-dollar donors, while Democrats rely more on “hard” money raised through a strong fundraising operation.
- The massive out-of-state contributions to Abrams’ leadership committee underscore her — and the race’s — high national profile.”
What they say: Senate Republican Majority Leader Mike Dugan, who co-sponsored the leadership bill, said the extent of the Democratic appropriations was not surprising. But now it’s easier to see those contributions and coordination between groups, he claims. As he told Axios: “Anyone can see what’s in the pot.”
- “But it’s nice to know and look and see exactly what’s going on. Here’s how the money flows from one pot to another,” he said.
In the meantime, other new leadership committees were formed, including candidates for lieutenant governor and state majority and minority caucuses. But no one raised nearly as much money as Abrams or Kemp.