In the wake of the enactment of a controversial set of new election-related restrictions in Georgia, the Georgia Republican Party has been hit with a Federal Election Commission complaint alleging that it violated federal campaign finance law. The complaint is from the government watchdog groups known as Campaign Legal Center Action and Common Cause Georgia, and those behind the filing allege that the Georgia GOP accepted illegal in-kind contributions from a right-wing election integrity organization called True the Vote, which openly touted a partnership with the Georgia Republican Party in the lead-up to Georgia’s January 5 Senate elections.
Two government watchdog groups have filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing the Georgia Republican Party of illegally accepting in-kind contributions from conservative group True the Vote. https://t.co/ptFH1HbAXt
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 1, 2021
In-kind contributions are “non-monetary” support for political causes, and corporations including both for-profit and non-profit groups are banned under federal law from making these sorts of contributions. In December of last year, True the Vote announced that, in partnership with the Georgia GOP, they would be conducting “voter mobilization activity, funding an Election Integrity Hotline, training volunteers in signature matching techniques, coordinating volunteer monitoring of ballot drop boxes,” and more, as summarized by Business Insider. These efforts, the theory goes, constituted illegal spending on behalf of and in coordination with the Georgia GOP.
As Brendan Fischer, who serves as director for Campaign Legal Center Action’s federal reform program, put it:
‘True the Vote is prohibited from making in-kind contributions to political parties, and True the Vote is prohibited from coordinating political expenditures with parties, like the Georgia Republican Party. The relevant legal standard is whether True the Vote spent money in connection with an election, and in some ways, that’s a broader standard than what might apply to other entities.’
Aunna Dennis, who serves as Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia, commented on a similar note to Business Insider as follows:
‘What we’re hoping to do is to send a message that this activity does not belong in Georgia, this isn’t actually helpful for voters, and it doesn’t actually increase integrity or the trust value of our elections in Georgia. We’re pursuing this complaint because this is not activity that is legal federally, and it shouldn’t take place in our state.’
Stewart Bragg, who currently works as executive director of the Georgia Republican Party, complained to Insider that the “complaint is ridiculous,” but the facts are nevertheless clear. True the Vote openly spent money on behalf of the Georgia GOP, providing what amounted to apparent in-kind contributions for the state party, and that’s illegal.
True the Vote was also involved in challenges to the validity of hundreds of thousands of voter registrations across Georgia in the lead-up to the state’s January Senate elections. They were one of a slew of right-wing interests who have been involved in nationwide attempts to prove the existence of systematic fraud in U.S. elections, but none of these efforts have produced any meaningful evidence of the alleged fraud.