The New Georgia Project, a voting rights organization founded by Stacey Abrams and overseen for more than two years by Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock, is facing allegations of financial misuse and irregularities, according to a six-month POLITICO investigation.
The organization, which played a key role in registering the new voters necessary to turn Georgia from a red state to a swing state with two Democratic senators, is conducting its own internal probe into its finances in response to the claims of irregularities, one of its two board chairs, Frank Wilson, said.
The move comes as the group’s tax filings indicate that its former executive director — who was hand-picked by Abrams in 2014 but fired last year without notice — owes the organization thousands of dollars in “non-work-related” reimbursements. The former director, Nsé Ufot, who left the group last year after heading it for eight years, denies owing money and calls the allegation “a fucking lie.”
The debt attributed to Ufot — a nationally recognized leader in voting rights efforts and frequent political commentator — is one of multiple instances of poor financial record-keeping and allegations of misuse of funds uncovered by POLITICO. The New Georgia Project didn’t properly track company expenses that were allegedly prepaid to employees on Visa gift cards and failed to account for salary advances and other expenditures, according to a review of financial disclosures, internal documents and interviews with 12 current and former employees, including senior leadership. Most were granted anonymity to discuss sensitive internal matters.
The organization has also been fending off other administrative battles, including a state ethics investigation over whether its election advocacy violated rules limiting direct political activity by nonprofits, which it has sued to terminate, and a dispute with the IRS over payment of payroll taxes, which the group’s new CEO, Kendra Davenport Cotton, said has recently been settled.
These revelations raise concerns about the management and operations of the New Georgia Project, which played a crucial role in registering new voters and turning Georgia into a swing state. As voters, it is important for us to have confidence in the organizations that aim to protect our voting rights and ensure fair elections. The allegations of financial misuse and irregularities must be thoroughly investigated to ensure accountability and transparency.
It is crucial that organizations like the New Georgia Project operate with integrity and maintain the trust of the public. Fair and honest elections are the foundation of our democracy, and any allegations of financial misconduct must be taken seriously. We, as voters, have a responsibility to hold organizations accountable and demand transparency. Let us hope that the internal probe conducted by the New Georgia Project will shed light on these allegations and lead to necessary changes to ensure the organization operates in a fair and ethical manner.