Stacey Abrams' nonprofit group's spending may trip her up

As Democrats around the nation rush to push failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams as The Next Great Hope for their party’s future, a possible glitch with the FEC may introduce a couple of bumps into that road. An FEC complaint has been filed against Abrams’ nonprofit group, Fair Fight Action. Ostensibly formed to “advance voting rights” in Georgia, the group has been dumping a lot of money into promoting Abrams herself, clearly with an eye toward her future electoral prospects. Whether this would represent an actual violation – either now or in the future – is an open question, but it certainly doesn’t look good. (Fox News)

Spending by Fair Fight Action, a nonprofit that former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams founded to advance voting rights, and which is staffed by former Abrams campaign aides, is prompting questions about whether it’s inappropriately supporting her political ambitions.

In a matter of months, Abrams has gone from losing the Georgia governor’s race to being a heavily recruited Democratic star, urged to run for Senate and mentioned as a possible presidential contender.

On Wednesday, a GOP-affiliated group called the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, or FACT, filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service. The group pointed to roughly $100,000 worth of Facebook ads featuring Abrams, an advertisement for a “Stacey Abrams Fundraiser” that featured Fair Fight Action’s logo, travel for Abrams’ post-election “thank you” tour of Georgia and a professionally produced “highlight reel” of Abrams footage on the group’s website.

As I said above, the complaint filed by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust may or may not hold water at this point. As of today, Abrams isn’t running for anything, so the money can’t be considered any sort of illegal campaign contribution as there is no campaign to contribute to. There is a portion of the applicable law that forbids nonprofits from creating a “private benefit” to a specific person or group, but that law is so vague that it might be tough to pursue a case here.

It’s obviously a stretch to say that paying for a “thank you tour” and producing “highlight reels” from her gubernatorial campaign constitutes spending money to advance voting rights. But she’s the chair of her own group’s board of directors, so if the people donating to that PAC don’t have an issue with it, she might be able to skate by.

That may not be the end of the story, though. What if she comes back off the bench and makes another run for office? Shes already being discussed as a possible Georgia Senate candidate, and as previously reported, Joe Biden is allegedly looking at her for the veep slot if/when he jumps into the presidential race. If either of those things happens, any cash that her PAC flushes into promoting her personally could certainly be seen as both a campaign contribution and a “personal benefit” to her.

You have to wonder if Joe Biden is watching this developing story. Does he really want to tie that sort of potential scandal around the neck of his presidential campaign before it even gets out of the gate? He might be hoping that Abrams helps his ticket with a diversity problem and perhaps even moves the needle toward carrying Georgia in 2020. But even there, he needs to keep in mind that Abrams came close in 2018, but she still lost.