Screenshot of ad

Kemp ad assails Abrams’ actions on sex offender, trafficking bills

In the tight race for governor, supporters of Republican Brian Kemp launched a new television ad Friday targeting female voters on the issue of sexual assault.

The ad features a mother of two, identified only as Amy, who backs Kemp and blasts Abrams over her response, as a legislator, to proposed legislation dealing with human trafficking and sex offenders. Amy says she was a victim of sexual violence.

The 30-second spot is paid for by the Georgia Republican Party.

The plot

The ad opens with Amy telling viewers she’s known Kemp, a former state lawmaker and Georgia’s current secretary of state, for 10 years.

“He’s incredibly decent and honest — almost to a fault,” she says. “That’s why I’m so proud to support Brian.”

Amy then declares that Kemp’s Democratic opponent, former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, “should be ashamed of her false attacks.”

She assails Abrams for supporting legislation “letting sexual predators work near our schools” and opposing a bill “cracking down on human trafficking.”

“Abrams even voted against collecting DNA from registered sex offenders,” Amy says as Abrams’ picture appears. “Victims of sexual violence deserve better. I know because I am one.”

The context

Both candidates or their supporters have made claims suggesting that the other has been soft on criminals who prey on women. Both deny the other’s claims.

Abrams has repeatedly hammered Kemp for failing to revoke the state license of a massage therapist for sexual misconduct, something Kemp says he can’t even do.

The GOP’s new TV ad renews criticism of Abrams on votes on bills dealing with restrictions on where sex offenders can live and work, human trafficking and DNA testing of registered sex offenders. It targets her votes in 2008 on Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 908, her refusal in 2017 to vote on House Bill 341 and her opposition in 2007 to House Bill 314,

Let’s look deeper.

  • Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 908: House Bill 908 would have reinstated a range of restrictions that limited sex offenders from living, working or loitering within 1,000 feet of places where children congregate, including schools and churches. The other, Senate Bill 1, was originally proposed to prohibit registered sex offenders from photographing children. HB 908 was pushed by Republican lawmakers as an answer to a Georgia Supreme Court ruling in 2007 striking down broader restrictions that were hailed as the toughest in the nation. Some Democrats and civil liberties groups said the bill was too onerous. For instance, when school bus stop locations can change from year to year. These groups also expressed fear that the legislation could drive many sex offenders to desolate areas where few services are available.

The provisions of HB 908 were later tacked on to SB 1, which ultimately cleared both chambers and was signed into law by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue.

  • House Bill 341: State Rep. Bert Reeves, a Kemp backer, has said that Abrams “deliberately avoided taking a public position” on House Bill 341, a measure he sponsored in 2017 to crack down on sex trafficking. He said Abrams did not vote on the measure even though she was at the Capitol at the time of the vote. Reeves also said he had listened to Abrams’ guidance and “accommodated her requests” to try to ensure that the bill had bipartisan support. The measure allowed prosecutors to charge people soliciting a victim of sex trafficking with human trafficking violations. An Abrams spokeswoman responded at the time of Reeves’ press conference, saying the candidate opposed the bill because it limited the discretion of judges.
  • House Bill 314: Abrams was one of two House members who voted against this bill. Seven others were excused from voting. The bill requires a DNA analysis for anyone placed on probation from a felony conviction for crimes including rape, sodomy, child molestation and armed robbery.

Abigail L. Collazo, a spokeswoman for Abrams, said Friday in response to the new ad: “These tired and misleading attacks by Brian Kemp continue to show just how desperate he is to hide from his record of failing women — refusing to restore funding to a rape crisis center and renewing the license of a massage therapist who pleaded guilty to sexual assault.”

She said Abrams was recently given an award by Tabitha’s House, a testament to “her work supporting survivors of sex trafficking.”

“She is the only candidate for governor who voters can trust to take decisive action to keep our families and communities safe,” Collazo said.

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