Ethics Commission fines group that backed Stacey Abrams $50,000

A group backing Stacey Abrams’ 2018 gubernatorial campaign was fined $50,000 by the state ethics commission for failing to report the money it raised and spent to help her get elected.

Abrams was one of three high profile campaigns that were the subject of today's ethics commission meeting.

"A quarter of a  million dollars in dark money went into this account and no one knew where it came from. That is significant, said Ethics commission director David Emadi.

 Emadi laid out the facts in a campaign finance case against a committee that raised money for Stacey Abrams's recent gubernatorial campaign. 

The Independent Committee, known as Gente4Abrams (People for Abrams) was set up out of state and raised and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the Abrams campaign without ever registering with the ethics commission or disclosing how much it raised.

 Mijente voluntarily reported its own failures to the state. The commission handed down a $50,000 fine.

"We're taking on a lot of big names, where people potentially violate the act or violate the cat, we'll continue to do so under my chairmanship, said Ethics chairman Jake Evans.

It was a much smaller fundraiser and much closer to home for veteran Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren. 

Warren held what has become a traditional fundraiser called "Corn Boilin" in Cobb County. It mixed fundraising for his campaign and a nonprofit Youth museum. The commission found the Sheriff had his own staff working during the dual fundraiser while on the county clock, and some campaign money was used personally by staff.

The commission handed down a $10,000 fine.

"It was a unique case, don't see these kinds of cases every day. I think it is good to move forward and that the sheriff takes it seriously and clean up his books, said Evans. 

Then a case that has gone on since 2009 brought Atlanta city councilman Michael Julian Bond to the forefront. He still owes the state $39,000 from previous campaign finance violations. He and his lawyer pleaded that he doesn't have the money to pay it off.

After listening to details of Michael Julian Bond's financial situation, complicated by health problems and a pandemic, the commission voted to have staff and Mr. Bond try to work out a compromise before the next meeting.