Stacey Abrams’ voting rights non-profit raised $51 million in 2020

01/04/2021 — Atlanta, Georgia — Former Georgia gubernatorial Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams makes remarks during a Georgia Democrat U.S. Senate campaign rally in Atlanta’s Summerhill neighborhood, Monday, January 4, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

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01/04/2021 — Atlanta, Georgia — Former Georgia gubernatorial Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams makes remarks during a Georgia Democrat U.S. Senate campaign rally in Atlanta’s Summerhill neighborhood, Monday, January 4, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

The non-profit wing of the voting rights group Stacey Abrams founded after losing the 2018 election to Gov. Brian Kemp reported raising about $51 million in 2020, according to tax records obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The tax filing for Fair Fight Action Inc., showed the organization spent about $19 million on legal services in 2020.

Fair Fight Action filed a federal lawsuit in 2018 alleging widespread voting problems in Georgia, including broken-down machines, long lines, inaccurate results, canceled absentee ballots and voter registrations that either had been canceled or had gone missing. A judge threw out many of the claims earlier this year, but parts of the lawsuit remain, and the case is headed for trial, probably in 2022.

Records show the organization’s biggest donor last year was Fair Fight’s political action committee, which donated $13.7 million to the non-profit advocacy group. The PAC had collected just under $104 million from its inception in late 2018 through June 30, the most recent reporting period, and has raised money nationally.

The PAC provided major funding for Democratic efforts to win the presidential and U.S. Senate races in Georgia and aided party voter programs across the country. Democrat Joe Biden won Georgia in 2020 and the party flipped both U.S. Senate seats in January 2021. Abrams and her groups were credited with playing a major role in making that happen.

Abrams, who is expected to seek a rematch with Kemp in 2022, is listed on the tax documents as chairwoman of the Fair Fight Action Inc., board but was not paid by the organization.

A consulting firm run by Lauren Groh-Wargo, who led Abrams’ campaign in 2018, was paid $225,250 to manage the non-profit.

The organization reported donating a total of more than $3 million to several progressive and voting organizations, including the Washington D.C.-based Black Progressive Action Coalition, the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, Fair Count, Georgia Equality, and People for the American Way.

Tax records for the group listed 16 contributions of at least $1 million each to the non-profit in 2020. Such non-profits do not legally have to disclose the names of donors, unlike the group’s PAC.

Fair Fight Action and Fair Fight’s PAC were formed in the wake of the 2018 elections, during which Abrams and supporters raised questions about what they saw as a Republican effort to suppress the vote. Kemp, who at the time was secretary of state and thus responsible for state elections, rejected the criticism, pointing to an increase in voter registrations in the years leading up to the election.

Fair Fight’s ability to raise money from across the country took on added political importance in Georgia earlier this year when the General Assembly’s Republican majority passed legislation allowing the GOP governor and the Democratic nominee to create “leadership committees.” Such committees can raise unlimited amounts of money that can be used in coordination with a campaign.

Currently, there are limits on how much individual donors can give to a campaign. The “leadership committees” skirt those limits, so groups like Fair Fight can give unlimited amounts to the funds and the money can be used to elect or re-elect candidates such as Abrams.

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