A federal judge has ruled against a fundraising committee associated with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is not allowed to collect unlimited funds under the terms of a state law passed last year.
Abrams, who unsuccessfully ran for the governor of Georgia in 2018, and her not-yet-approved leadership committee One Georgia, filed suit last month, asking the court to allow the committee to begin accepting unlimited contributions because she is effectively already the nominee since she is running unopposed.
The Hill adds:
The use of such leadership committees was approved last year under a new law backed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who is running for a second term and has already formed a leadership committee of his own. The committees can be used by a select few top candidates, including the incumbent governor and major party nominees.
But in a decision handed down on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Mark Cohen said that while Abrams is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination for governor, she cannot yet be considered her party’s nominee because she hasn’t yet made it through the primary.
Allowing One Georgia to begin raising unlimited amounts of money before the primary would require the court to “effectively rewrite” the law, Cohen wrote.
The state’s gubernatorial primaries are scheduled for May 24, The Hill added.
Lauren Groh-Wargo, Abrams’ campaign manager, said following Thursday’s decision that “it is more urgent than ever” for supporters to “give whatever they can” directly through the candidate’s website.
“It’s not the first time that Georgia leadership committees have been the subject of a legal fight. Former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), who is challenging Kemp for the Republican nomination, sued Kemp over his use of a leadership committee earlier this year,” The Hill reported, adding that the judge sided with Perdue and banned Kemp from spending any of the money in the primary but not in the general election.
During oral arguments earlier this week Cohen, an 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.
“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 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.
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.
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.
This story originally appeared on Conservative Brief.
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