Georgia GOP spends more than $1.7M in legal fees linked to Trump court fight

Georgia GOP chair Josh McKoon at a March 2024 event. (Natrice Miller/

Georgia GOP chair Josh McKoon at a March 2024 event. (Natrice Miller/

The Georgia GOP has spent more than $1.7 million on legal fees since 2022 after promising to help cover the tab for the party’s former chairman and other officials targeted in Fulton County’s election interference case.

The state party tallied $237,000 in legal fees in March atop more than $1.5 million in previous courtroom bills, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of newly released financial documents.

The disclosures show the legal fees are the party’s largest category of expenditures this election cycle, far surpassing the more than $400,000 spent last year to organize a state convention that featured former President Donald Trump.

Georgia GOP chair Josh McKoon has made clear the state party’s top priorities are financing the legal defense and helping Trump recapture Georgia four years after President Joe Biden narrowly won the state.

The hefty courtroom bills have caused a rift with some senior Republicans who say the party should instead be channelling its contributions toward helping elect state GOP candidates.

Gov. Brian Kemp is among the statewide officials who have steered clear of the Georgia GOP, instead boosting his own political organization’s efforts to help legislative and local candidates “from the bottom up.”

Former Georgia GOP Chair David Shafer is seen at a rally for Republican presidential candidate and former president Donald Trump at Forum River Center in Rome on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Arvin Temkar /

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

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Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

McKoon has long framed the party’s decision as a necessity after his predecessor, David Shafer, and 15 other electors cast votes after Trump’s 2020 defeat as if he won. Their votes took place as Democrats met at the same time in the state Capitol to tally legitimate electoral votes for Biden.

The GOP electors submitted to state and federal authorities documents that claimed they were the “duly elected” electors from the state, which they said Trump won. They claimed at the time they did so to preserve Trump’s legal rights in case his defeat was reversed.

While some of the GOP electors later struck immunity deals with prosecutors, Shafer, state Sen. Shawn Still and Cathy Latham were all charged in Fulton County’s racketeering case. They are among the 15 co-defendants whose charges are still pending.

The legal fees have drawn intense focus from the party. The Georgia GOP has helped organize efforts to float their legal bills and promoted fundraising events around the state that have drawn top Trump loyalists.

McKoon, meanwhile, has chastised Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis as a “blindly partisan, power-mad” prosecutor, and has outlined plans to sue her to recoup the legal fees if an appeals court disqualifies the DA’s office from pursuing the case.

The booking photos for (l-r) former state Republican Party Chairman David Shafer, State Sen. Shawn Still (R-Norcross), and Cathleen Latham,  former chairwoman of the Coffee County Republican Party. All three were “alternative” electors who are charged in the sweeping racketeering prosecution in Fulton County. (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

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Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

And he said the three officials facing charges, along with other Republican electors who accepted immunity deals with prosecutors in exchange for their testimony, would have “been financially ruined” if not for the party’s decision to pick up the tab.

“I am personally grateful for the tremendous financial support that has allowed the Georgia Republican Party to meet these obligations while preparing to run an aggressive 2024 campaign up and down the ballot,” he said.

The legal fees have strained the party’s coffers at a crucial political moment. Both campaigns see Georgia as a top battleground target in the White House race, and polls show Biden and Trump are locked in a tight rematch. State Republicans are also trying to defend a handful of competitive legislative districts after a court-ordered redrawing of state political maps.

The party ended March with $450,000 in cash on hand. That’s far ahead of the roughly $140,000 the party had in the bank at this stage in the 2016 race, but lags behind the nearly $1.3 million in cash the party boasted at this time in the 2020 contest.

The party’s coffers were boosted by an influx of qualifying fees for contenders seeking state and congressional office, along with a wave of donors.

The party held a recent gala with U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican. And it reported receiving $10,000 checks last month from Arkansas real estate investor John Bailey and his wife Patricia; billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn and his wife Andrea; and John J. Ricketts, the former chief executive of TD Ameritrade.

“We’re seeing very good support from our donor community,” McKoon told the “Politically Georgia” podcast this month. “I feel very good that we’re going to have the resources that we’re going to need to win in November.”