GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A north Georgia investment company has filed a lawsuit against GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp and an agricultural business he invested in after company officials say he failed to repay a $500,000 loan.
The suit was filed by RLP Investments and its owner, Rick Phillips. Originally, the suit was filed in Stephens County, but it is now before a Gwinnett County Superior Court judge.
According to Phillips, Kemp sat in his Toccoa, Georgia, office and asked for a $500,000 loan so his company, Hart AgStrong LLC, could purchase raw canola seeds.
Phillips said since Kemp and Hart AgStrong paid back an earlier $600,000 loan, he thought the new loan was safe. He produced documents showing a personal guarantee agreement between him and Kemp.
But Phillips said Kemp and Hart AgStrong defaulted on the nine-month loan even after two 90-day extensions.
“He’s the only person I ever dealt with,” Phillips said. “I loaned this money to Brian Kemp. I loaned it to Hart AgStrong at the request of Brian Kemp, and he personally guaranteed it.”
In a statement, Kemp campaign spokesperson Ryan Mahoney pointed out that Kemp is only one of the investors in Hart AgStrong and accused Phillips of being one of political rival Casey Cagle’s top donors.
“We all know that conservative businessman Brian Kemp is one of many investors in Hart AgStrong,” Mahoney said. “He’s not in charge of operations, and the company is working to settle their debts. This isn’t a story. This is a failed publicity stunt to help a failing candidate for governor retain power.”
Phillips said at first, he wasn’t sure who to support for governor, but after this lawsuit, he supports Cagle’s gubernatorial campaign.
The next hearing on the lawsuit will be held in a Gwinnett County courtroom July 25, the day after the GOP runoff.
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