Abrams Campaign Seeks Dismissal Of Request For Additional Documents In Ethics Probe
The campaign for former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams is asking a Fulton County judge to dismiss a motion by the state ethics commission asking for additional documents in an ongoing ethics probe into alleged campaign finance violations.
In a filing Wednesday, lawyers for Abrams' campaign argue that several subpoenas issued by the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission are too broad, asking for communications that don't relate to its purview of campaign finance - and that there are no documents that show any sort of illegal coordination between several third-party groups and the campaign.
Thousands of financial documents from Abrams' run were handed over to the ethics commission this summer in response to several broad subpoenas, but the campaign says it found no record of communications between the campaign and several outside groups.
The commission argued in its filings that requesting all communications was necessary to identify if coordination between the campaign and several groups that focus on voting rights and minority outreach existed.
"Because the substance of any one communication by itself may not stand for coordination, it is important to examine all communications in contact with one another," the court filing reads. "The subpoena must cast a net wide enough to capture communication between employees and agents."
But the Abrams campaign said that the judge did not have jurisdiction to rule on the state's request since the commission has not shown evidence of a violation, but also that granting the motion would send a chilling effect for political campaigns of rival parties.
"This court, as a matter of first impression, is being asked to find that the commission has the power to turn upside down every single campaign for public office in the State of Georgia, and to shake out and pull into the public record every document, email, and utterance unrelated to campaign finance, without regard to the subject matter of the communication,” the new filing said. “There is no law that supports this approach, though there are many that condemn it.”
Additionally, the Abrams campaign wrote that by submitting thousands of pages of financial records and searching through campaign communications and finding no documents that matched the state's request, it fully complied with the subpoenas.
If the documents were to be turned over to the ethics commission, they would be made open to the public following the close of the investigation, something the campaign said would expose strategy and trade secrets that are unrelated to campaign finance concerns.
"Campaign employees and agents are people," the filing concludes. "Their thoughts and impressions about matters unrelated to the Commission's campaign finance mission should not be placed into the public sphere without prior notice and without cause, simply because of the Commission's approach to a preliminary investigation."