ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue and his campaign are challenging a new state law that they say will give incumbent Governor Brian Kemp a huge and unfair advantage in fundraising and spending in the Republican primary procured.
The law, passed by state legislatures last year and signed by Kemp, allows certain high-ranking elected officials, including the governor and party candidates, to form “leadership committees” that can raise unlimited campaign funds, including during a term in office. In a federal lawsuit filed in Atlanta Thursday, Perdue and his campaign allege that the law “creates an unequal electoral field” and is asking a judge to declare it unconstitutional.
Georgia law allows candidates for national office to collect no more than $ 7,600 from a single donor for an area code or general election and $ 4,500 for a runoff election. But governing bodies are not bound by these limits.
The new law provides for executive committees controlled by the governor, lieutenant governor, a political party candidate for governor or vice governor, and the Republican and Democratic parliamentary groups in the House and Senate.
Kemp’s campaign created the Georgians’ first leadership committee in July, shortly after the law went into effect. In the month since Perdue declared his candidacy, Kemp has already spent more than $ 1 million on ads attacking him, the lawsuit said.
The new law has enabled Kemp to create “a de facto second campaign committee” that discriminates against Perdue, the lawsuit said.
“When he thought no one was watching, Kemp gave himself the power to raise unlimited campaign funds while the challengers play by different rules,” Perdue tweeted on Friday. “Only a 20-year-old professional politician like Kemp would gain an unfair advantage for his own self-preservation.”
Kemp Committee Speaker Cody Hall said, “David Perdue’s record of seedy stock deals makes it clear that he really doesn’t like obeying the rules, so this ridiculous lawsuit shouldn’t come as a surprise.”
The new law was generally backed by Republicans and opposed by Democrats. The Democrats argued that the legislation would increase the influence of monetary interests on Georgia’s politics, as governance committees, unlike elected state officials, can accept contributions during the legislature.
State Sen. Elena Parent, chairwoman of the Democratic Caucus, tweeted Thursday, “I agree with Perdue on one thing: the corrupt ‘leadership committee’ slush fund law is bad.”
The law violates Perdue’s constitutional right to freedom of expression and equal protection, the lawsuit said. It calls on a judge to declare the new law unconstitutional and forbid any activity by a governor’s governing committee established under the law. It also called on the judge to order the state transparency and campaign finance commission to revoke the registration of Kemp’s committee, order the reimbursement of all contributions made to him, and forbid him from spending any money to support Kemp’s re-election.
Perdue and his campaign have also filed a motion asking the judge to temporarily prevent Kemp from raising and spending unlimited funds through his leadership committee while the lawsuit is pending.