The New Georgia Project, the nonprofit organization founded in 2014 by voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, is facing allegations of financial irregularities and misuse of funds, according to a six-month investigation by Politico. A review of financial records and interviews with former and current employees found “multiple instances of poor financial record-keeping.”
The group, which received more than $36 million dollars in donations in fiscal year 2020 and helped register approximately 800,000 new voters in Georgia to elect two Democrat senators, reportedly failed to track company spending in the form of Visa gift cards given to staff to cover work-related expenses. But no system was in place to ensure the gift cards actually were being used for work purposes. There also were alleged instances where the group didn’t pay contractors on time—or at all. Former employees told Politico that the “organization had a toxic work environment that became unnecessarily stressful and fomented distrust between staffers.”
Abrams, who hasn’t been involved with the group’s leadership since running for governor of Georgia in 2017—when now-Senator Raphael Warnock became the chair before his Senate bid—didn’t comment on the allegations. Board Chair Frank Wilson said the New Georgia Project is conducting an internal probe into the organization’s finances. “We’re going to do a forensic look at our records,” Wilson, who also chairs the New Georgia Project Action Fund, the 501(c)4 arm of the nonprofit that can engage in political activity, told Politico. “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 investigation further found irregularities related to salary advances and other expenses, including reportedly failing to seek reimbursement from Nsé Ufot, the group’s former executive director and CEO who was fired in 2022, for “thousands of dollars in ‘non-work-related’ reimbursements.” The group reported in financial forms a $8,865 salary advance for Ufot in 2021, while the 501(c)4 entity reported she owed $4,377. Ufot denied claims that she owes money to the organization.
“What you saw was real, the people that were knocking doors and doing other things, incredible, incredible,” a former high-level employee told Politico. “The sad part is those are the people that were incredible. And they deserve better. The volunteers, the people that were on staff were absolutely incredible, believed in the mission, were the mission. It was a complete failure of leadership.”
Politico’s investigation can be read in full here.