Georgia GOP targets Ossoff’s financial disclosure; Democrat says it’s ‘laughable’

Complaint takes aim at Hong Kong payment

Georgia Republicans targeted Senate candidate Jon Ossoff with an ethics complaint scrutinizing his financial disclosures, leading the Democrat’s campaign to call it an “utterly false and desperate” bid to smear him ahead of a Jan. 5 runoff against U.S. Sen. David Perdue.

The complaint filed by the Georgia GOP accuses Ossoff of “knowingly and willfully” failing to disclose payments that his investigative journalism firm received from PCCW Media Limited in a campaign financial disclosure in May 2020. He amended the filing to include the details in July.

Stewart Bragg, the Georgia GOP’s executive director, said Ossoff “tried to hide his connection” to PCCW, a Hong Kong-based media firm whose executives have ties to the Chinese government.

“We’re asking the Senate Ethics Committee to look into this further, because we believe this was an intentional effort to conceal information from the people of Georgia,” said Bragg.

An Ossoff aide dismissed the complaint as an audacious attempt to distract voters and said he amended the disclosure on his own accord.

The campaign said Ossoff’s company, which produces investigations for news agencies, received around $1,000 through a distributor for two investigations it made on Islamic State war crimes that were rebroadcast by PCCW in Hong Kong. Though the payments were below the $5,000 reporting threshold, the campaign said the sums were disclosed in the interest of transparency.

“David Perdue’s fever dream that Jon Ossoff is some kind of Chinese communist agent because a TV channel in Hong Kong once broadcast two of his company’s films exposing ISIS war crimes is one of the most laughable smear campaigns in Georgia history,” said Ossoff spokeswoman Miryam Lipper.

“This is an utterly false and desperate complaint, which will go nowhere, lodged on behalf of a disgraced senator whose financial misconduct is world famous.”

A China clash

Though Senate ethics complaints are often used by candidates and their allies to target opponents during contentious campaigns, the bipartisan committee rarely takes action.

An analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that not one of the nearly 1,200 complaints of alleged violations filed between 2007 through 2019 resulted in a disciplinary sanction. Only six resulted in letters of admonition – basically, a slap on the wrist – during that span.

This complaint alleges the timing of the disclosure – weeks after Ossoff won a seven-candidate Senate primary – left voters “in the dark” about his finances and gave him an advantage over his Democratic rivals.

Candidates routinely file amendments to their personal finances and other campaign filings, and the Democrat’s campaign pointed to 19 amendments to Perdue’s financial disclosures since his 2014 bid.

Perdue and his allies have pummeled Ossoff with attacks over the payment throughout the campaign. In an October debate, the Republican dramatically pulled out a document that he claimed showed Ossoff was trying to hide the business relationship with the Hong Kong firm.

“He needs to own up to it, because sooner or later, we need somebody in the United States Senate that will stand up to Communist China,” said Perdue, a former Fortune 500 chief executive.

In a heated comeback, Ossoff said the Republican has “continued to demean yourself.”

“First, you were lengthening my nose in attack ads to remind everybody that I’m Jewish. Then, when that didn’t work, you started calling me some kind of Islamic terrorist,” Ossoff said. “Then, when that didn’t work, you started calling me a Chinese Communist.”