Days after Stacey Abrams qualified to run for governor in March, a super PAC funded by billionaire megadonor George Soros put $1 million into her campaign, according to campaign finance reports.
Soros, a common target of criticism from Republicans for his vast spending on Democratic causes over the years, donated the money through the Democracy PAC II to One Georgia.
One Georgia is Abrams’ leadership committee. U.S. District Judge Mark Cohen ruled last month that Abrams could not raise money through a leadership committee until she wins her party’s nomination later this month. Abrams is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
The leadership committee law that the Republican-led General Assembly passed in 2021 lets the governor, the opposing party’s gubernatorial nominee, the lieutenant governor and party caucuses create special committees to raise as much cash as they can without limits. It gave incumbents an added edge since their challengers can’t use the funds until they win their party’s nomination.
It was designed in part to give Gov. Brian Kemp, who formed his leadership committee in July, a huge fundraising advantage.
However, Cohen also recently ruled that Kemp’s committee had to suspend raising any more money unless he wins his Republican primary because it was unfair that the law allowed only one person in the race to create such a committee before winning the nomination: the governor. Kemp faces former U.S. Sen. David Perdue in the GOP primary.
Abrams will be able to use a leadership committee after she wins the nomination.
David Emadi, executive secretary of the state ethics commission, said the Abrams camp can keep the Soros contribution but not spend it until after the primary.
The leadership committees are important tools for funding campaigns because there are limits on how much a candidate can raise from an individual or business interest that don’t apply to leadership committees, so they can collect huge checks from donors.
Statewide candidates, such as those running for governor, are currently allowed to raise $7,600 from individual donors for the primary and again for the general election, plus $4,500 per runoff.
In contrast, Kemp’s leadership committee had taken checks up to $250,000 from individual donors in its first few months of operation.
The Soros family gave $1.34 million to the Georgia Democratic Party in 2018, the year Abrams first ran for governor against Kemp.
Politico reported earlier this year that Soros is seeding his super PAC, Democracy PAC II, with $125 million, an enormous investment to aid Democratic groups and candidates for the 2022 election cycle and beyond. The political action committee is run by his son.