Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Democratic nominee for governor. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/
Photo: Bob Andres/

New Democratic ad hits Kemp on several fronts

With the election for governor only a week away, state Democrats are out with a new television ad that claims Republican nominee Brian Kemp’s 20-year record in public service shows he “can’t be trusted.”

The ad rehashes several claims against Kemp, some recent and some reaching back to his legislative career and 2005. It also hits him with a new charge that he’s been campaigning for governor on taxpayers’ time.

The 30-second spot began airing Tuesday in the Atlanta TV market. It was purchased by the Democratic Party of Georgia for Stacey Abrams, the former Democratic leader of the state House and Kemp’s opponent in the Nov. 6 general election.

The plot

The ad opens with a picture of Kemp, then one of a young woman and a medical professional as the moderator reels off a series of claims:

“Twenty years of Brian Kemp’s politics. Twenty-six sexual assault victims disregarded by Kemp. Millions of Georgians with pre-existing conditions. … Kemp would deny them coverage. Defaulting on a half-million-dollar loan — stiffing farmers on millions. Kemp’s actions … the AJC reports a possible felony.”

The moderator goes on to say: “Now, Kemp’s been caught campaigning using our tax dollars. And who knows what else. … Georgia — we just can’t trust Brian Kemp.”

The context

Kemp has been accused in the GOP primary and the general election of failing to act in his capacity as secretary of state on complaints of sexual assault launched against state-licensed massage therapists. Kemp has acknowledged that his office has oversight of the Georgia Board of Massage Therapy but said that only the state board can suspend or revoke a therapist’s license.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation, cited in the ad, found that 25 of 26 sexual misconduct complaints made against massage therapists in a three-year period resulted in no public disciplinary action of a therapist.

The ad also claims that Kemp, as governor, would deny health insurance coverage for the millions of Georgians with pre-existing conditions, a charge Kemp has vehemently denied. The claim is based on Kemp’s “yes” vote in 2005 for Senate Bill 174, a measure that bipartisan critics said would make optional some coverage, such as mastectomy treatment and women’s contraceptives.

Kemp last week went up on air with an ad disputing that claim and saying several relatives, including his wife and oldest daughter, have pre-existing conditions.

The claim that Kemp has defaulted on a $500,000 loan is based on court records and news reports about business ventures that Kemp remained active in after he became secretary of state in 2010. One of those companies owed farms millions of dollars, and an attorney for the state Department of Agriculture has indicated that the company’s actions“may be a felony under Georgia law.”

The last claim is based on recent news reports, causing some to question how Kemp can be doing his job as secretary of state when he’s out on bus tours and campaign stops. Kemp has said he’s still doing his state job.

The reaction

Ryan Mahoney, a spokesman for the Kemp campaign, issued this response to the ad: “With a week until Election Day, Georgia Democrats have decided to just make up lies and post them on the Internet. They are desperate and their baseless attacks are pathetic. Brian Kemp is a businessman who will invest in public education, lower insurance premiums and cover those with pre-existing conditions. Stacey Abrams refuses to pay her taxes but wants to raise your’s $13,000 a year to pay for radical, government-run health care and welfare for illegal immigrants.”

Watch the ad.

Read about other ads from Kemp, Abrams and their backers.

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.