Watchdog FACT Calls for IRS Probe of Outside Group Supporting Stacey Abrams
Complaint Maintains Fair Fight Action Inc. Violated its Tax-Exempt Status by Funding Former GA Gubernatorial Candidate’s Political Activities
The non-partisan ethics watchdog group, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), today, filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) against Fair Fight Action, Inc. for funding former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ current political activities in violation of federal law.
Founded in 2014, Fair Fight Action Inc. is registered as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization that has served as the primary arm of Stacey Abrams’ political operation and efforts. Shortly after Abrams lost a close 2018 gubernatorial race in Georgia that she blamed on “voter suppression” and other voting irregularities, Fair Fight Action assumed the Abrams campaign’s legal challenges to Georgia’s electoral process and filed a federal lawsuit. In a November campaign speech, Abrams signaled that Fair Fight Action would continue to serve as the primary vehicle to promote her political agenda where she would “channel” her work. Since that time, the organization has blatantly demonstrated through its leadership, purpose and activities that its primary mission is to advance Abrams’ political career.
First, Fair Fight Action received a million dollars in funding from Abrams campaign and is being run by Abrams’ 2018 Campaign Manager and Campaign Compliance Officer, with Abrams reportedly serving on its Board. Additionally, in December 2018, the organization updated its charter and “removed language from its bylaws that barred the organization from ‘directly or indirectly’ participating or intervening ‘in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.’” Since that time, the organization has engaged in overtly political activities to promote Abrams, including:
Accepting donations from a “Stacey Abrams Fundraiser”;
Bankrolling Abrams’ statewide speaking tour where she told audiences: “I am running for office again.”;
Hosted two dozen watch parties, some in early presidential primary voting states, for supporters to “cheer Abrams on” as she delivered the Democrats’ response to President Trump’s State of the Union address;
Buying social media ads alleging now-Gov. Brian Kemp “robbed” Abrams of election victory and others simply promoting Abrams;
Buying commercial airtime during Super Bowl LII in Atlanta to showcase Abrams to Georgia voters.
Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(4) provides tax-exempt status to “[c]ivic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.” FACT’s complaint maintains that “by providing support for an individual’s personal political activities, Fair Fight Action is in violation of the requirement that a social welfare organization serve general community purposes rather than provide a private benefit to an individual or political group. The IRS has previously determined that an organization that serves to promote a single individual and that individual’s ‘agenda and platforms’ does not qualify for Section 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status.”
“It is extremely concerning that Stacey Abrams appears to be abusing our nation’s tax laws for her personal political gain,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). “The IRS has on numerous occasions ruled against groups trying to advance personal interests, and it is imperative the IRS investigate Fair Fight Action’s conduct,” added Arnold. FACT is asking the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to take immediate action to ensure Fair Fight Action does not abuse the tax code further.
A copy of the full Abrams complaint can be read here.
FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: http://www.factdc.org/.