Stacey Abrams Campaign Under Scrutiny: $1M In Debt, Former Staffers Allege Wasted Spending

The campaign raised more than $100 million for the rematch against Gov. Brian Kemp.

Stacey Abrams’ 2022 Georgia gubernatorial campaign is coming under a microscope. Stories are surfacing of alleged wasted spending forcing the campaign to tighten its belt in the crucial final weeks and cut off paychecks to staffers sooner than they expected, putting the workers in financial difficulties.

Axios confirmed with Abrams’ campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo, that the campaign owes more than $1 million in her unsuccessful rematch in November against Gov. Brian Kemp.

In her 2022 campaign, Abrams outraised Kemp by almost $8 million in the reporting period before the election. But in the end, Abrams lost her bid for governor against Kemp by eight points in a replay of a 2018 contest that she lost by just over one point.

Stacey Abrams Loses Second Attempt To Take Georgia Governor’s Race

Money was tight in the final weeks before the November election. One of the belt-tightening measures included cutting off paychecks and benefits to most of the 180 full-time staffers a week after the elections.

“People have told me they have no idea how they’re going to pay their rent in January,” a former staffer told Axios. “It was more than unfortunate. It was messed up.”

Kemp’s campaign staff received paychecks through November, as well as bonuses, according to Axios. And campaign officials for Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker, who competed in a December runoff for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, told the news outlet that they paid campaign workers through December.

Former Abrams staffers and operatives told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the campaign, flush with cash, spent money lavishly on failed tactics. For example, some staffers said the campaign rented a home to be a “hype house” for TikTok videos. There was also a pop-up shop and “swag truck” to distribute merchandise in the hope of winning young voters. But the hodge-podge efforts, they said, seemingly had no strategy behind them.

“It’s incredibly bad planning and it shows where their values are at,” a senior Democratic official told the AJC. “You can’t look up one day and realize you can’t pay the bills.”

Stacey Abrams Urges Donors To Give Her Campaign Contributions To Abortion Rights Groups

There were signs of financial trouble when the campaign failed to increase TV ads in the two weeks before early voting began. The Abrams campaign slashed ad buys from up to $3 million in early October to $825,000 in the last week of that month. By contrast, her GOP rival spent more than $2.6 million that week and Warnock reserved nearly $3.5 million for ad buys.

Groh-Wargo, at that time, explained the decreased ad spending as a strategic shift to digital and ground operations. But she now admits to Axios that the campaign “was trimming everything we could.”

Despite the financial shortfall in the end, the campaign paid above-average salaries to key staffers and canvassers. And when the campaign was over, human resources tried to help staffers find new jobs.

A full picture of the campaign’s finances are expected with the January disclosure.

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.