ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News was in the room, as a state ethics commission decided that two voter advocacy groups violated campaign finance laws.
The head of those groups told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot that this is pure politics.
Stacey Abrams founded the New Georgia Project but is no longer affiliated with that group.
The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission worked the case for some time and on Monday, it ruled that New Georgia Project and its affiliated action fund violated Georgia law.
The hearing lasted most of the day as the New Georgia Project and its action fund tried to convince ethics commissioners that it had not broken any campaign finance laws when it accepted more than $4 million in contributions and spent more than $3 million of it.
It said it used the money to register people to vote all over the state which led to record turnouts.
But the commission showed bank records and fliers for Democratic candidates the project passed out as proof it wasn’t acting as a nonprofit but was trying to influence voters and, as a result, had to file reports.
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In a unanimous vote, commissioners found the group had violated campaign ethics laws eight times.
New Georgia Project chair Francys Johnson blamed the ruling on politics since four of the five commissioners are Republicans -- three appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp.
“Totally unsurprised,” Johnson said. “We’re not surprised that this commission has been weaponized to deter the work of the New Georgia Project, but make no mistake about it, we are resolved to continue the fight to make sure every Georgian can participate.”
Commission Executive Secretary David Emadi insisted politics played no part in the ruling, stating that his lawyers simply followed the facts, the evidence and the law in presenting their case.
“We’re pleased with the vote,” Emadi said. “He’s entitled to that opinion. Political groups are always going to spin it in their political favor, but we operate based on facts in evidence. I think that was clear by the vote.”
The case now moves forward to the office of state administrative hearing where a judge will make a final decision on this case.
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