A voting rights group founded by Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is coming under fire after revelations that it paid $9.4 million to a boutique law firm where one of the partners is her campaign manager.
Fair Fight Action, which lost its multi-million dollar case in which it accused Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger — who was elected in 2018 to succeed Brian Kemp — and the State Elections Board of discriminatory and suppressive election practices, paid the law firm Lawrence & Bundy $9.4 million in 2019 and 2020; Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, a partner at the firm, chaired both Abrams’ 2018 gubernatorial campaign and her current gubernatorial campaign.
“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,” Politico reported.
“It is a very clear conflict of interest because with that kind of close link to the litigation and her friend that provides an opportunity where the friend gets particularly enriched from this litigation,” Craig Holman of Public Citizen declared.
Abrams founded Fair Fight Action after losing the 2018 election to the GOP’s Brian Kemp — who was then serving as Secretary of State — and then claiming thousands of voters had been disenfranchised. In December 2020, Raffensberger wrote bluntly, “Ms. Abrams still refuses to acknowledge she lost.”
“Fair Fight Action ought to explain why this lawsuit cost so much,” Kathleen Clark, a professor of legal ethics at Washington University commented. “I think there are significant questions about this choice of firm and just why this lawsuit was so much more expensive. And there may be perfectly valid, innocent explanations to both of those questions. But I don’t know what they are.”
“It is essential that non-government organizations, that charitable organizations be run so they actually further their stated purposes,” Clark continued. “It’s important that we have assurances that it is pursuing its stated goals, rather than feathering someone’s nest.”
The initial lawsuit made roughly twenty different claims but Judge Steve Jones jettisoned most of them and focused on three issues. “I call it the incredible shrinking lawsuit,” quipped Georgia attorney General Chris Carr.
“It started off with allegations of tens of thousands of votes that were suppressed across the state of Georgia in the 2018 Election,” he pointed out. “We’re down to seven individuals who didn’t vote. … That is not what they brought. That’s not what their press conferences have been about. That’s not what their fundraising emails have been about. It was about a watershed landmark voter suppression case. That’s what they took to the American people, not just Georgians, they made this a national campaign. We literally went from 20-some claims to three, and three that don’t go to the heart of affirmatively prohibiting Georgians from voting.”