Stacey Abrams was often a brilliant and effective politician, and she was also a grifter

Two Things Can Be True

Two Things Can Be True, at least from my perspective:

  • Stacey Abrams is a brilliant person, and was a very effective politician
  • Stacey Abrams was a grifter who took advantage of voters and donors

Note… I am using past tense on these “truths” because the internet seems to say she has gone to Hollywood and is likely not going to try try again for high office.

I served with Stacey Abrams in the Georgia House when only the hard core political inside baseball people in Georgia knew her name. I liked and respected her back then.

This was during the ancient era when dinosaurs stomped the halls of the Gold Dome, before the social media acid bath and Twitter mobs had fully formed, and before the ultimate divider of Trump. By that I mean 2011-2014. There was more camaraderie and collaboration between parties, at least in Georgia.

As a young freshman Republican legislator, the at the time Minority Leader Abrams did me a big favor. I had a complicated and long education “cleanup” bill that I was sponsoring. It was mostly technical and non-controversial. When I went to the Rules committee, Abrams in her brilliance had somehow read enough of the long involved bill to find a serious flaw deep within. She pointed it out at the meeting, and I had to sheepishly slink away and take the bill back to committee to fix it. When I came back to Rules the next week I thanked the minority leader for her help. She saved my bacon.

Stacey was intimidating to my party at times because she could shred unprepared GOP members in the well with deadly questions. You had to be on your “A” game with all the facts and support lined up. She often made everyone better. I enjoyed watching her go toe to toe with our Majority Whip at the time, Ed Lindsey, himself a brilliant and effective legislator. In most cases Abrams was fair and factual, and usually an honest negotiator.

I got a glimpse of another side when I sat down in her office seeking Democratic support for a fairly benign public charter school bill I was working on. After presenting the facts and impact of the bill, I sensed intellectually and through body language that the Minority Leader agreed this was probably a good bill or at least neutral. But she said, “Mike, you know we can’t support this.” Translation – it may be good policy but politics says I have to oppose it. Now that situation is not unusual in politics, but what I later saw in the wee hours of November 7, 2018 was off the charts unusual.

I was at the Kemp election night headquarters in Athens with hundreds of others. The votes were in and he had won with a margin of 50,000+ votes. Stacey did not concede as I watched her on the TV monitors – she gave a combative speech about whether the election was legitimate. I remember truly being shocked, thinking this wasn’t the Stacey that I knew.

Later she never actually conceded, and only said she accepted that Kemp would be sworn in. She also then became a national celebrity campaigning on alleged election problems in Georgia, and with her organizations she filed lawsuits that came to essentially nothing. And she raised millions of dollars.

What I knew, with my Inside Baseball Hat on, was that Abrams had negotiated and voted for the core of the same election laws that were in play in 2018. HB 92 in 2011 gave Georgia the long 3 weeks plus a Saturday early voting period, which is still much more than Democratic strongholds Delaware, New York, and Massachusetts. I remember clearly that Abrams negotiated for that bill, and voted for it. You can see it below.

We then of course had the 2020 drama of the close Trump/Biden election with untested COVID temporary rules, way closer in Georgia than the Kemp win in 18. Miraculously, the 2020 election was “legitimate” for Stacey and her then massive grifting machine because Democrats won state wide.

The legislature then passed a bill trying to codify and clarify the ad-hoc rules that had been done for absentee / mail-in voting during COVID. Stacey and her like demonized this bill enough to lose the MLB All-Star game and cause all kinds of panic in the business community. A UGA / MIT poll later found that people thought voting was easy and this bill was not a hindrance. 99% had no issues at all. Again, none of the lawsuits amounted to anything substantial.

I believe in my heart of hearts that Abrams knew that there was no real problem in 18, or in 22 when she got destroyed by Kemp in the rematch. She signed off on the very generous early voting that Georgia offers, and we also have mail in ballots for anyone who wants it. She needed an issue to become famous, and to raise money. She trumped up the issue, and caused all kinds of chaos. She actually pioneered the questioning of Georgia elections well before Trump pitched his epic fit. It was a calculated move by a very smart person. And she got rich. Got rich, in my opinion, by exploiting people that wanted to believe that Georgia had a racist or bad election system.

Statewide candidates in Georgia have to file financial disclosures.

In 2017, Ms. Abrams had a net worth of $108,885

In 2022, it was $3.17 million and showed $6.5 million of income since 2019

You do the math.

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