NEW AJC Reporting on Ongoing Scandal After Governor Kemp’s Administration “Sidestepped the Law” with Cash Card Debacle

April 17, 2024

A recent audit revealed that Brian Kemp’s administration “sidestepped the law” when it rushed to approve a billion-dollar contract to distribute cash assistance cards to 3 million low-income Georgians before the 2022 election. 

Attention to the scandal has continued to increase since the news broke. The story dominated evening and morning newscasts starting Thursday and over the weekend. Various print outlets have also run the story in that time — including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s reporting, which is excerpted below.

“This scandal isn’t going away,” said DPG spokesperson Alex Yerkey. “It looks like the state broke the law and it’s just as clear that the proper remedy is for the Attorney General to open an investigation. The only real question for the Kemp administration is whether they want to assist the investigation or continue to be part of the cover-up.”      

Read the story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution below:

AJC: Georgia Democrats seek probe into preelection cash cards for needy
Maya T. Prabhu and Katherine Landergan; 4/15/2024

  • Auditors said the Department of Human Services may have flouted a state law when it rushed to launch a federally funded cash assistance program for low-income Georgians shortly before Gov. Brian Kemp’s reelection in 2022.

  • According to a report from the Department of Audits and Accounts, the Kemp administration did not comply with state-approved process for soliciting bids for a $1.1 billion contract to distribute debit cards to Georgians who receive food stamps, Medicaid or welfare. Kemp used federal COVID-19 money to provide the cash assistance.

  • Georgia Democrats, citing the report, called for the state to launch an investigation. Senate Democratic Caucus Chairwoman Elena Parent of Atlanta said the optics make it look like Kemp was using the cards, which included his name, to give himself an edge as he was making his case for reelection that November.

  • “We need to determine whether state law regarding procurement was used here for Gov. Kemp’s personal political gain,” Parent said.

  • The Department of Administrative Services requires that agencies get its approval for large purchases and put the call for proposals on the Georgia Procurement Registry. Instead, the DHS and the governor’s Office of Planning and Budget directly solicited proposals from four companies and selected one within a week.

  • The audit notes that solicitation for the contract opened on Aug. 25, 2022, and the supplier was selected on Sept. 1, 2022. Election Day was Nov. 2, 2022.

  • In responding to state auditors, the DHS said: “The agency agreed with the finding.

  • Early last year, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the state attorney general, and the DHS said they were investigating alleged fraud tied to the cards. A GBI spokeswoman said the investigation is ongoing.

  • “This administration chose expediency over ethics, chose corruption over competence and chose patronage over people,” [State Senator Nan] Orrock said. “It’s too steep a price to pay in order to get Brian Kemp reelected.”

  • Kemp went on a binge of spending federal COVID relief money in 2022 while he was running for reelection. By the time of the election he’d announced commitments for most of the $4.8 billion allocated to the state for everything from water and sewer and rural broadband projects to Grady Memorial Hospital funding and the debit cards.


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