After a blowout loss in a faceoff with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign is reportedly in debt and cannot afford to pay its employees. As reported on Monday by Axios, two-time campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo revealed that the gubernatorial candidate was left owing more than $1 million to vendors.
— Emma Hurt (@Emma_Hurt) December 19, 2022
Abrams is known for her fundraising prowess as her campaign to unseat Gov. Brian Kemp in the 2022 election gathered over $100 million. However, in the final weeks to the election, the cash flow reduced drastically. By a week after the November election, most of the 180 full-time employees on the campaign payroll were reportedly handed an abrupt paycheck cutoff date.
While employees had expected to be paid well after having raised so much money, Groh-Wargo described the tight cash flow situation as a “blow out.” The campaign was only able to get out of the debt by selling its donor and voter contact databases.
Groh-Wargo traced the cash flow issues to a “cavalcade of negative press and negative polling” that made it difficult for the campaign to raise funds in the final months.
While people in Abrams’ camp suffered the heat of the defunding, Gov. Brian Kemp’s campaign staff got paid through November with bonuses as an icing on top.
And when Abrams’ campaign was forced to cut its weekly ad buys from its usual $2 and $3 million range in early October to a little over $800,000 in the final week of October, Kemp’s weekly ad buys for that week cost more than $2.6 million.
According to Groh-Wargo, she was “trimming” everything she could as the campaign manager. Before her interview with Axios, she had claimed the ad budget reduction was purely strategic and aimed at investing in digital and ground game operations.
This would not be the first time groups associated with Abrams would “go broke” after massive fundraising, as organizations she founded have faced allegations of financial impropriety in the past.
The New Georgia Project, founded by Abrams, had praise when it amassed about $25 million in 2020. However, the funds were nowhere to be found by 2022 as the voter registration group laid off half its leadership team in the weeks leading to the November elections due to a lack of funds.
The finances of the failed governor’s Fair Fight Action were also questioned when the group dispensed $9.4 million to a law firm operated by her campaign chair Allegra Lawrence-Hardy.
In another allegation that would lead to an internal investigation, Fox News reported that Fair Fight Action’s political action committee dolled out thousands of funds into accounts owned by family and close friends of its political director even though they practically have no political experience and have other full-time jobs.