The law firm of Stacey Abrams' campaign chairwoman and longtime friend reportedly got millions of dollars from Abrams' voting rights organization for its losing legal case that alleged voter suppression in the 2018 governor's race.
Fair Fight Action paid $9.4 million in 2019 and 2020 to the Atlanta law firm of Lawrence & Bundy, Politico reported.
Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, Abrams' close friend who chaired her gubernatorial campaign in 2018 and in her current race to unseat Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, is one of the two named partners at Lawrence & Bundy.
Lawrence-Hardy declined to tell Politico how much her firm collected from Fair Fight Action in 2021 and 2022 — years in which she was lead counsel in the organization's legal fight against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Fair Fight Action lost the suit, but insisted it drew attention to voting inequities — while Politico noted it also galvanized the Democratic Party and many of its top donors.
The judge, Steve C. Jones, on Sept. 30 issued his final order and judgment, ruling against Fair Fight Action, Politico reported.
"Although Georgia's election system is not perfect," Jones wrote, "the challenged practices violate neither the constitution nor the [Voting Rights Act]," he wrote, Politico reported.
Abrams created Fair Fight Action shortly after her loss to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2018 by a narrow margin. She claimed thousands of voters, a disproportionate number of whom were people of color, were effectively disenfranchised by overly restrictive voting rules.
According to Politico, Lawrence-Hardy was at the forefront of Abrams' effort to combat suppression from the start, citing unnamed Abrams aides. The news outlet reported of the eight different law firms working on the Fair Fight Action case, Lawrence-Hardy's firm served as lead counsel and collected the most fees.
"We do provide other services for Fair Fight Action," Lawrence-Hardy told Politico. "We have several matters for them."
But one ethics watchdogs told Politico the friendship and Lawrence-Hardy's leading roles in Abrams' campaigns raises questions about a possible conflict of interest.
"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, an expert on campaign finance and ethics at Public Citizen, a non-partisan consumer advocacy organization, told Politico.
Through her campaign, Abrams declined to be interviewed, but the campaign disputed the idea the litigation helped her candidacy.
"What is the boon to the campaign?" said Nina Smith, a senior adviser to the Abrams campaign. "We reject that premise. Ideally the remedies sought in this case would currently be in place and voters in Georgia would not have their government working against their right to vote. That benefits democracy."
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