Type to search

Government - Local Government - State National News

Judge sides with Stacey Abrams, rule sidelines Gov. Brian Kemp’s leadership committee


What had been seen by many as a major advantage that Republican lawmakers carved out for Gov. Brian Kemp has now been placed on hold. 

Georgians First, the committee organized to raise re-election funds for Kemp has been benched by a federal judge who ordered the special committee to suspend raising campaign money for Kemp. Judge Mark Cohen ruled that Kemp’s leadership committee can’t raise any more money unless he becomes the party’s nominee.  

Cohen had recently made a similar ruling against Stacey Abrams, who he said won’t be the Democratic nominee until the primary is over, preventing her from raising money through a leadership committee until then. 

Following his ruling denying Abrams’ committee from raising funds, her lawyers asked the judge to stop Kemp’s campaign from raising money from its leadership committee to “level the playing field.” Lawyers pointed out that Kemp is not the party’s nominee until after the Primary Election has been held and should not be allowed to act as the nominee in the eyes of the new law. Kemp faces former U.S. Sen. David Perdue in the GOP primary.

In a hearing Thursday, Cohen called the leadership committee law “unprecedented” because it set up a scenario where one person — the governor — can do something his challengers can’t: raise unlimited money before the primary. “He’s the only candidate in the state of Georgia who can have a leadership committee right now,” Cohen said. The judge compared it to the General Assembly passing a law saying the governor — and only the governor — can ignore legal limits on how much individuals and businesses can donate. 

In his ruling, Cohen wrote, “Allowing Governor Kemp’s re-election campaign to be the beneficiary of unlimited contributions raised through a leadership committee he chairs while, at the same time, Abrams is restricted to the statutory limit of $7,600 by Georgia law is ‘antithetical to the First Amendment.’ “The public has no legitimate interest in the enforcement of an unconstitutional statute.”

In the early months of campaigning for governor, Abrams and Perdue joined forces in criticizing the leadership committee system. Both framed it as an unfair law designed to help Kemp. 

The new law passed by the Republican-led General Assembly 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 Kemp, what some saw as an unfair advantage since his challengers can’t use the funds until they win their party’s nomination. This ruling comes months after Kemp enjoyed exclusive rights to raise unlimited funds as a result of the bill he signed into law. 

By the time the GOP nominee is decided, Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams, who is running unchallenged, will officially be declared her

party’s nominee and will be eligible to use the same leadership committee law to raise unlimited funds from donors.

Abrams campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said after the ruling,  “We are pleased the court both recognized and offered a remedy today for the unconstitutional fundraising advantage Brian Kemp signed into law benefiting himself. “

Kemp’s campaign had no comment on the ruling. The governor’s leadership committee was formed last year days after the law he signed went into effect. 

As of Jan. 31, Kemp’s leadership committee had taken in at least $2.3 million since it was formed in July. That is on top of the $12 million the governor has reported having in his campaign account. 


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *