The race for Georgia governor is entering a new arena: the state ethics commission.
The Democratic Party of Georgia and the Georgia GOP traded complaints this week targeting both Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams over their campaigns’ activities. They were the first volleys to be exchanged since the November matchup was set.
While the complaints are unlikely to be settled before the vote, they give each candidate fodder to pummel the other over the next three months.
The complaint against Kemp, which was filed Thursday, accuses the Republican secretary of state of “blatantly misusing state resources” by linking to his campaign’s social media accounts through his office’s taxpayer-funded official app.
DuBose Porter, the state Democratic Party’s chairman, called it a “flat-out abuse and careless use of his office,” and other left-leaning organizations also condemned Kemp’s move.
Kemp had rejected similar criticism about the app earlier this year, but his campaign said Tuesday that it would remove the links to his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter campaign accounts. The revisions took place about a day later.
His spokesman, Ryan Mahoney, called the ethics complaint a “lame PR stunt” and said it’s “clear that left-wing radicals are in panic mode.”
Abrams, meanwhile, was slapped with an ethics complaint Tuesday by the Georgia GOP questioning her ties to the BLUE Institute training program she established for party operatives and candidates.
The complaint alleges that the Democrat violated state law by improperly working with the institute to support her campaign, partly through “excessive in-kind contributions.”
Abrams was a founder of the institute, and one of her campaign aides, Ashley Robinson, now leads the group. Georgia GOP Director Carmen Foskey Bergman said it raises a “red flag.”
In a statement, Abrams spokeswoman Abigail Collazo didn’t specifically address the complaint but said the GOP “has nothing to offer Georgia voters except frivolous attacks and negativity.”
These are the latest in a string of complaints both candidates first began dealing with during the nominating process.
A watchdog advocate asked state officials in April to investigate whether Abrams used campaign contributions to promote the sale of her latest book, a claim her spokeswoman said was “petty and false.”
And an Atlanta attorney urged the ethics panel in June to investigate whether Kemp is allowed to receive contributions from industries his office regulates. His campaign said it has gone “above and beyond” what the law requires.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.