Welcome to Pay Dirt—exclusive reporting and research from The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay on corruption, campaign finance, and influence-peddling in the nation’s capital. If you enjoy this, become a Beast Inside member to get Pay Dirt in your inbox every week.
Fresh off a stinging defeat marred by voting irregularities, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is tooling up her political machine—to augment her role as Georgia Democrats’ de facto leader, and perhaps to mount another run for office.
Until December, Abrams ran a dark-money group called Fair Fight Action. The organization is bankrolling her speaking tour, and bought a host of social-media ads echoing her allegations that her Republican opponent, now-Gov. Brian Kemp, “robbed” Abrams of an election victory in November through alleged efforts to disenfranchise black voters in his capacity as Georgia’s secretary of state.
Abrams has been floated as a challenger to Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) next year, and Fair Fight Action, which listed Abrams as its chief executive until last month, is making moves that would allow it to play in that or another political contest. Last month, the group quietly amended its own charter in an apparent effort to step up future political activity.
Fair Fight changed its name from the Voter Access Initiative, and removed language from its bylaws that barred the organization from “directly or indirectly” participating or intervening “in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.”
In January, Fair Fight formed a sister political action committee, which it’s used to steer funds to state-level candidates in Georgia. But that change in the nonprofit group’s mission appears to signal deeper political involvement by that arm of Abrams’ network as well.
The change will allow Fair Fight to, for instance, donate funds to a super PAC supporting a specific candidate for office, or run ads itself promoting that candidate or attacking his or her opponent. If that candidate is Abrams herself, it won’t be the first time that her nonprofit work has helped build her political infrastructure.
A source familiar with Fair Fight’s operations said the group has no plans to use the money it’s already raised to subsidize its new, explicitly political arm. The source downplayed the change in the bylaws, saying the stricken language was extraneous and unnecessary.
That may be, but it also indicates that Abrams and her team are very focused on upcoming political contests.
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