Judge McAfee gets $150 campaign donation from Trump co-defendant in Fani Willis case

Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee presides in court during a hearing at the Fulton County Courthouse on May 28, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. Trump's legal team sought to dismiss the Georgia election lawsuit on the basis of First Amendment rights

A co-defendant in the Georgia racketeering case against former President Trump donated to the 2024 campaign of the Atlanta judge presiding over the case, according to news reports. 

RELATED: Scott McAfee, judge presiding over Trump election case, wins election to keep his seat

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee received $150 from co-defendant Ray Smith III on May 25, 2023, according to campaign data filings reported by Newsweek. McAfee won his primary election in May, fending off a challenge from a civil rights attorney and radio host, Robert Patillo.

Ray Smith (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)

McAfee has been a judge for just over a year, since Republican Gov. Brian Kemp appointed him to fill an empty seat, and will now serve a full four-year term beginning in January.

Smith was the first co-defendent to plead "not guilty" after a grand jury returned a sweeping indictment in District Attorney Fani Willis' case against the former president's co-conspirators. 

Smith was accused of 12 counts of illegally asking state lawmakers to appoint a different set of electors from Georgia who would cast their votes for Trump in the Electoral College.

In 2020, Smith participated in state legislative hearings on behalf of the Trump campaign, arguing it was "impossible" to certify President Biden's victory. 

"Because of irregularities and abject failure of the secretary of state of this state and the counties to properly conduct the election, it is impossible – impossible – to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election," Smith told the Georgia state Senate Judiciary Subcommittee at the time. He argued that Georgia's election was "flawed" and claimed state lawmakers held the power to choose presidential electors in the event of gross "irregularities" in a presidential election. 

Smith presented the Trump campaign's case to lawmakers that Georgia election code was not followed in 2020 – claims tossed out of court – and interviewed several witnesses put forward by Trump's defense team.

McAfee was randomly assigned the unprecedented case against the former president and presumptive 2024 GOP presidential nominee last year. 

RELATED: Fate of Georgia Trump case in hands of relatively new Fulton County judge

Newsweek reported that Smith is not the first from the defense side of the case to contribute to McAfee. Wilmer Parker III, who represents co-defendant John Eastman, donated $500 to McAfee's re-election campaign in March, according to the outlet. 

McAfee became one of the highest-profile judges in the country after bombshell evidence was revealed in his courtroom that Willis had an "improper" affair with special prosecutor Nathan Wade, whom she hired to help prosecute the case. 

The case against Trump is now on pause until the Georgia Court of Appeals reviews Trump's arguments that Willis should be disqualified. 

Earlier this year, McAfee allowed Willis to stay on the case only if Wade resigned or was removed. In a three-day evidentiary hearing, Trump and co-defendants argued that Willis should be disqualified because she was in a romantic relationship with Wade prior to his hiring and that she financially benefited from his post in the DA's office. Both Willis and Wade denied those claims.

Timeline: Fulton County DA Fani Willis, Nathan Wade controversy

In March, McAfee ruled that "neither side was able to conclusively establish by a preponderance of the evidence when the relationship evolved into a romantic one."

Still, the judge said that "an odor of mendacity remains," and added that "reasonable questions about whether the district attorney and her hand-selected lead SADA [special assistant district attorney] testified untruthfully about the timing of their relationship further underpin the finding of an appearance of impropriety and the need to make proportional efforts to cure it."

He allowed Trump and his co-defendants to appeal his decision, which the Georgia Court of Appeals in May chose to take up.

Oral arguments in that appeal are scheduled for October. 

Smith did not immediately return Fox News Digital's request for comment.