The New Georgia Project, a voting-rights charity founded by Stacey Abrams, is under investigation for alleged financial irregularities. The Georgia Secretary of State opened the investigation following several reports by the Washington Free Beacon regarding the alleged financial mismanagement by former New Georgia Project executives.
Accounting and legal experts have also raised concerns about the legality of the group’s latest tax filings. Founded by Abrams in 2013, the New Georgia Project quickly became one of the nation’s leading voter registration groups, raising $54.7 million since 2020.
Georgia's secretary of state has opened an investigation into "financial irregularities" at the New Georgia Project, a charity founded by Stacey Abrams, following several Washington Free Beacon reports.
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) February 28, 2023
The Free Beacon found numerous discrepancies in the New Georgia Project’s financial disclosures. These include a half-million-dollar consulting payment to a charity run by the brother of former New Georgia Project CEO Nsé Ufot. Additionally, the New Georgia Project reported no payroll taxes paid in 2020, an impossibility outside of extensive criminal conduct.
According to a source with knowledge of the state’s actions, the secretary of state will issue subpoenas to various persons and entities with information regarding the New Georgia Project.
This investigation comes amid a separate long-running case by the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission alleging that the voter registration group illegally worked to elect Abrams during her failed 2018 gubernatorial bid.
Although Abrams lost her second gubernatorial bid by 7.5 percentage points in November, she has indicated that she will “likely run again” and raised over $100 million during her last campaign, mainly from liberal donors outside Georgia. According to a report from Axios, Abrams’s campaign still owes over $1 million to vendors.
The New Georgia Project appears to have fallen into dire financial straits since the June dismissal of chief financial officer Randall Frazier, despite raising a combined $37 million in 2020. In addition, the group dismissed most of its leadership over the summer, and its top accountant was fired after stating that he couldn’t do his job without violating the law.
The New Georgia Project’s Form 990 financial disclosure due to the IRS was not filed, potentially exposing the group to fines or other penalties. The required forms offer a detailed picture of a nonprofit’s finances, including how much was paid to top officials and contractors.
According to National Legal and Policy Center counsel Paul Kamenar, the missed IRS filing suggests “serious financial irregularities that should be audited.” With no known leadership in its accounting division, the New Georgia Project seems unable to comply with federal laws governing nonprofits. The group could also face sanctions from state authorities for failing to disclose its finances.
Although Abrams and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) are no longer affiliated with the New Georgia Project, they maintain ties with the group’s leaders, including board chairman Francys Johnson. Warnock appointed Johnson to his “Federal Nominations Advisory Commission” in March 2021, and he co-hosted a rally for Abrams in September.
The New Georgia Project worked to get both Abrams and Warnock elected this cycle, with mixed results. Abrams lost her second gubernatorial bid, while Warnock won his Senate seat in a December 2022 run-off against Republican challenger Herschel Walker after failing to earn more than 50% of the vote on Election Day.