It was recently reported that a federal judge on Monday seemed skeptical that he could or should grant Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams immediate permission to begin raising and spending unlimited amounts of campaign cash under current Georgia law.
According to The Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Mark Cohen, a Barack Obama appointee, told an attorney for Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign that she was asking him to essentially rewrite an existing state statute in order to let Abrams’ One Georgia political action committee to begin taking in donations before the May 24 primary.
“The remedy you’re asking me to do, I’m uncomfortable with, because you’re asking me to rewrite the statute,” Cohen told lawyer Joyce Lewis during a hearing in Atlanta, the AP noted.
The judge suggested it would likely have “made more sense” if Abrams’ attorneys had demanded that he shut down incumbent GOP Gov. Brian Kemp’s ability to raise funds through his committee.
“Why are you not asking me to shut down Kemp‘s leadership committee?” the judge asked.
Cohen indicated that he would issue a ruling on Abram’s request for an emergency order by week’s end.
The AP noted further:
Cohen, in a challenge from Kemp‘s Republican primary rival David Perdue, in February ordered Kemp‘s committee not to spend any money in the Republican primary. Cohen said such spending would give Kemp an unfair advantage against the former U.S. senator because Perdue isn’t allowed a similar committee. Cohen, however, didn’t block Kemp’s committee from taking in money. It’s a temporary ruling while Perdue’s lawsuit challenges Kemp’s committee as unconstitutional. Kemp is appealing the ruling.
Like Perdue, Abrams says the new kind of fundraising committee created by Georgia lawmakers last year is unconstitutional. Called a leadership committee, it allows certain people and groups to accept unlimited contributions. Giving to regular candidate committees is limited to $7,600 apiece for the primary and general elections and $4,500 for any runoff election.
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Under the law, the governor and lieutenant governor, opposing major party nominees, and both party caucuses in the state House and Senate can form the committees. The committees can coordinate with candidate campaigns, unlike most other political action committees. After signing the law, Kemp created the Georgians First Leadership Committee, raising $2.3 million through January.
Abrams summarily set up a leadership committee called One Georgia after she qualified, going on to argue that since no one filed to run against her in the May 24 Democratic primary and because there are no write-in votes allowed, she became the de facto Democratic nominee after qualifying closed.
State Democratic Party chair Nikema Williams, also a U.S. representative, agreed, saying that officially, the party recognized Abrams as the nominee for the Nov. 8 general election.
But Cohen said that state law as written does not include any provision to declare a nominee before a primary vote.