Abrams voting rights group has banked $19.5 million heading into 2022 election year

The voting rights group Stacey Abrams founded after losing the 2018 gubernatorial election to Brian Kemp reported this week that it ended 2021 with $19.5 million in the bank as she prepares to seek a rematch with the governor.

The Fair Fight PAC could continue using its money to support Democratic Party efforts and promote voting issues. But it also could get more directly involved in supporting Abrams in her run for governor.

Under a law that Kemp signed last year, if Abrams, as expected, wins the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Fair Fight’s PAC could legally funnel money to her bid to oust the incumbent.

One of Kemp’s opponents in the GOP primary, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, has filed a lawsuit arguing the “leadership committees” that the law creates for select candidates gives the Republican governor an unfair advantage. But if Abrams wins the nomination, she will also be able to create such a committee, which can take unlimited funds from donors, including political action committees such as Fair Fight.

Fair Fight took in about $12 million in 2021 and has collected over $100 million since Abrams founded it.

Like Abrams, the group’s political action committee has national fundraising reach, and it played a major role in promoting Georgia Democratic candidates in the 2020 elections.

It was the leading Georgia donor to the state party and worked to get out the vote that led to Democrats winning the presidential race and two U.S. Senate seats here.

Fair Fight receives tens of thousand of small, often reoccurring contributions, but it also has collected several donations of $1 million or more, including $5 million from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the end of 2019.

Under the “leadership committee” law Kemp and Republican lawmakers supported in 2021, the governor, the Democrats’ gubernatorial nominee and a few legislative leaders can create special funds that can collect unlimited contributions and coordinate their efforts directly with campaigns.

The lack of a limit on how much donors can contribute gives those with such special committees a huge fundraising advantage.

Currently, statewide candidates, such as those running for governor, are allowed to raise $7,600 from individual donors for the primary and another $7,600 for the general election, plus $4,500 for a primary runoff. Lawmakers can raise $3,000 per election cycle from individual donors for the primary and again for the general election, plus $1,600 for runoffs.

Those limits don’t apply to the “leadership committees.”

Kemp signed Senate Bill 221 — the leadership committee bill — into law without any public notice in May, and his campaign was the first to start one of the funds, naming it the Georgians First Leadership Committee. Challengers, such as Perdue, are not allowed to form such committees under Georgia law unless they win their party’s nomination.

The fund has been raising money from Capitol interests for months, giving Kemp a head start over Abrams.