The New Georgia Project is being exposed for its shady finances and suspect expenditures.
According to a six-month long Politico investigation, the New Georgia Project, a “voting rights” organization founded by failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and supervised by Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock for over two years, is facing serious allegations of financial misconduct and spending irregularities.
One of its two board chairs, Frank Wilson, stated that the organization is conducting an internal investigation into its finances in response to allegations of misappropriation of funds. The organization was instrumental in registering the new voters required to transform Georgia from a red state to a swing state with two Democratic senators.
The decision is made in light of the fact that the organization’s tax returns reveal that its former executive director, whom Abrams personally selected in 2014 but terminated without cause last year, owes the group “non-work-related” reimbursements totaling thousands of dollars. Nsé Ufot, the organization’s former director who departed last year after eight years in charge, refutes any financial obligations and dismisses the allegation as a “f**ing lie.”
The debt ascribed to Ufot, a prominent political commentator and nationally acknowledged leader in voting rights advocacy, is among several instances of inadequate financial record-keeping and accusations of fund misuse that Politico has exposed.
The New Georgia Project failed to account for salary advances and other expenditures, as well as improperly tracked company expenses that were allegedly prepaid to employees with Visa gift cards, according to an analysis of financial disclosures, internal documents, and interviews with twelve current and former employees, including senior leadership. Anonymity was granted to the majority in order to discuss sensitive internal matters.
In addition, the organization has been under siege for administrative conflicts, such as a state ethics investigation into whether its election advocacy violated rules limiting direct political activity by nonprofits, which it has filed a lawsuit to terminate, and a recently resolved dispute with the IRS regarding payment of payroll taxes, according to the organization’s new CEO, Kendra Davenport Cotton.
The New Georgia Project, akin to analogous nonprofit organizations, functions under two distinct federal tax designations: 501(c)3, which proscribes political activity, and 501(c)4, which permits the allocation of up to half of its efforts to political activities. However, it shares a single CEO and a common staff leadership.
Wilson, chairman of the 501(c)4 branch of the organization, the New Georgia Project Action Fund, stated that the organization is dedicated to identifying any irregularities and more closely monitoring expenditures.
“We’re going to do a forensic look at our records,” said Frank Wilson, a retired scholar at Albany State University. “We’ll start at the beginning, and just lay it out, clean it up and redirect as necessary … so we’ll be in a position where anybody who will come — be it authorities, be it media, be it whomever — we will not be concerned about who looks at our records because we’ll have all our i’s dotted and t’s crossed. So I’m comfortable with that, you know, and I’ll almost welcome it.”
The challenges faced by the organization are more noticeable in the realm of Democratic advocacy due to the tremendous national attention brought about by Abrams and her network, which has worked to turn Georgia into a swing state. Advocates and organizers from different states have tried to replicate her achievements.
Abrams, which established the New Georgia Project in 2014 as a subsidiary of Third Sector Development, another nonprofit it founded, declined to comment. Abrams has not been a member of the organization’s leadership since her initial campaign for governor in 2017.
When the organization first registered as an independent 501(c)3, in 2017, Warnock assumed the role of chair. He remained in that position until January 2020, when he commenced his inaugural Senate campaign. Interview requests directed to his office went unanswered. His response to a question in the Senate subway regarding his knowledge of any malfeasance at the New Georgia Project was categorically “not at all.”
It looks like the thing these radical activists fear the most is actual sunlight.