Failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has been dealt another humiliating blow.
Abrams, who has twice run unsuccessfully for the governorship of Georgia, is reportedly having to lay off the majority of her staff at Fair Fight, a nonprofit organization she founded to combat supposed voter suppression.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported:
The Fair Fight political and advocacy organization that Stacey Abrams founded is laying off staffers and narrowing its mission as it struggles with mounting debt from lengthy court battles over voting rights that racked up massive legal bills.
… The organization’s voting rights, media, fundraising and grassroots organizing efforts will be slashed, and it will pare back its use of outside consultants and vendors. Some 20 employees — or 75% of the staff — will be cut.
Fair Fight’s chairwoman, Salena Jegede, said the increased cost of fighting litigation and a slowdown in fundraising has left the organization with a “serious funding deficit that makes our current trajectory unsustainable.”
“While we are disappointed by these realities, we are not discouraged,” Jegede said. “We will adapt to this new phase of the fight for democracy by restructuring the organization to focus on how we serve Georgia and American voters for the 2024 cycle and beyond.”
The implosion represents an embarrassing setback for Abrams, who was once considered an influential figure within the Democratic Party and even touted as a possible Biden vice presidential pick.
Fair Fight’s finances have not always been so dire. Tax filings in late 2020 showed the organization had $21 million in assets, although that number has continually dwindled since then.
Corruption allegations have also plagued the organization since its foundation, amid evidence that most of its fundraising went towards paying legal fees to her close friend Allegra Lawrence-Hardy in a protracted and ultimately unsuccessful voter suppression claim against the state of Georgia.
Millions of dollars were also donated to her 2022 gubernatorial campaign in which she was convincingly defeated by incumbent Republican Brian Kemp.
Politico reported at the time:
The voting rights organization founded by Stacey Abrams spent more than $25 million over two years on legal fees, mostly on a single case, with the largest amount going to the self-described boutique law firm of the candidate’s campaign chairwoman.
Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, Abrams’ close friend who chaired her gubernatorial campaign both in 2018 and her current bid to unseat Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, is one of two named partners in Lawrence & Bundy, a small firm of fewer than two dozen attorneys.
The firm received $9.4 million from Abrams’ group, Fair Fight Action, in 2019 and 2020, the last years for which federal tax filings are available. Lawrence-Hardy declined to comment on how much her firm has collected from Fair Fight Action in 2021 and 2022 — years in which Fair Fight Action v. Raffensperger, for which Lawrence-Hardy was lead counsel, had most of its courtroom activity.
Fair Fight Action has maintained that the suit — which ended last month when a federal judge ruled against the group on all three remaining claims — served an important role in drawing attention to voting inequities. But some outside the group questioned both the level of expenditures devoted to a single, largely unsuccessful legal action and the fact that such a large payout went to the firm of Abrams’ close friend and campaign chair.
Jegede, meanwhile, insists that Fair Fight will carry on and that the restructuring effort will ensure it is “strongly positioned for the many battles ahead.”
“The incredible need remains, and is only escalating, to fight back against those that seek to disenfranchise voters and take away our agency as Americans,” she declared. “Our commitment is unwavering.”