News, Politics

Ethics Complaints Against Kemp and Abrams Will Not Be Resolved By November

This week, both parties filed ethics complaints against the gubernatorial campaigns of Democrat Stacey Abrams, left, and Republican Brian Kemp.
This week, ethics complaints were filed against the gubernatorial campaigns of Democrat Stacey Abrams, left, and Republican Brian Kemp.
Credit John Bazemore for Associated Press; Ian Palmer for WABE
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Georgia’s ethics commission says it will not be able to resolve complaints from Republicans and Democrats before the November elections.

This week, both parties filed ethics complaints against each other’s gubernatorial campaigns.

On Tuesday, Republicans accused Democrat Stacey Abrams of using her connections to the BLUE Institute program for “excessive in-kind contributions” to her campaign. They say she violated Georgia law because an employee of the program Abrams founded also works for her campaign.

On Thursday, Democrats filed a complaint against Republican Brian Kemp, accusing his campaign of misusing state resources. They say he violated state law when a mobile app for his current office of Secretary of State included social media links to his campaign. Those links were removed this week.

Stefan Ritter, executive secretary of the Georgia ethics commission, said his office will give these complaints “an enormous amount of attention,” but “there is no method for us to have them done and investigated and prosecuted before the election. That’s just the way the law is.”

Investigating ethics complaints like those filed against the gubernatorial campaigns can include subpoenas and audits. They just take time, and Ritter’s staff is limited.

During an election year like this one, his office must respond to ethics complaints from around the state.

“We cover the smallest town you can think of and their dog catcher all the way to the governor’s office,” Ritter said.

But the governor’s race has priority, he said, and his staff will move the complaints as quickly as they can.

Ritter also plans to meet with both campaigns in the coming weeks to brief them on Georgia’s campaign ethics laws.