New Republican ad focuses on Abrams’ tax debt

Screenshot of ad

Screenshot of ad

Supporters of Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp are out with a new ad that attacks Democrat Stacey Abrams on her finances and her decision to put money into her campaign instead of toward her tax debt.

The ad, which is approved by Kemp and funded by the Georgia Republican Party, charges that Abrams is "radical and corrupt." It was airing in the Atlanta television market on Thursday.

The plot

The ad opens with a shot of Abrams looking angry during a speaking engagement.

The narrator says: “Stacey Abrams wants to raise your taxes but didn’t pay hers.”

He says Abrams made $1 million but refused to pay her taxes.

Instead, the narrator says, “she gave that money to her campaign.”

The ad closes with his comment: “Stacey Abrams — radical and corrupt. You pay higher taxes, not her.”

The context

This is the second ad from the Kemp camp targeting Abrams for giving money to her campaign, instead of using that money to pay off her tax bill.

Abrams has acknowledged she did both, but she has said she’s not shirking her obligation to pay her taxes — just doing it through a payment plan.

The ad claim that Abrams gave her campaign money while she had a pending debt to the Internal Revenue Service is true and well-reported.

The new TV spot cites a report in March in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, indicating Abrams owed more than $50,000 to the IRS and about $170,000 more in credit card and student loan debt. At the time, her campaign said Abrams had deferred tax payments in 2015 and 2016 while helping pay her family's expenses. Abrams was on a payment plan with the IRS for about $54,000 in taxes, according to her campaign.

Subsequent reports showed Abrams, the former Democratic leader in the state House, had made more than $1 million and gave $50,000 to her campaign while owing the IRS about that much money. The Republican Governors Association criticized Abrams as "fiscally irresponsible."

And Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, said: “If that’s not criminal, it should be.”

In August, Abrams said she’s lived up to her obligations and described the focus on her tax debt as a distraction.

“I’ve never failed to file my taxes. I’ve never failed to pay my taxes. I’m on a payment plan to fully fund my taxes,” Abrams said.

She said she could defer her taxes but not “my family’s needs.”

In August, state Democrats put out an ad on Abrams' behalf aimed at again addressing her tax issue.

In the ad, Abrams tells the audience: “When my father was diagnosed with cancer and money was tight, I knew that I could defer payment on my taxes, but not on his cancer treatments. I made the right choice — the choice to fulfill my obligations to my family — and was able to get on an approved payment plan with the IRS.”

She said her family issues help her to “understand the tough choices working families must make …”

The response

Abigail Collazo, the director of strategic communications for the Abrams campaign, called the newest television spot “nothing more than his latest failed attempt to distract Georgians from Abrams’ plans to create good-paying jobs, increase access to health care and invest in public education.”

Watch the ad