“Pay to Play”: Kemp Takes Big Campaign Cash, Appoints Donors to Board of Regents

April 15, 2022

Brian Kemp’s campaign is once again facing allegations of “pay to play” and shady fundraising practices. Last night, new reporting from 11Alive revealed that Kemp took a total of $301,400 in campaign cash from two donors before appointing them to Georgia’s powerful Board of Regents.

Watch: Kemp names big political donors to Board of Regents

The new report comes after an investigation last month from FOX 5 Atlanta revealed Kemp took $50,000 from the CEO of a medical marijuana company shortly after the company was chosen by the Access to Medical Marijuana Commission (whose members were selected by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House) as one of the six to grow and sell medical marijuana in Georgia.

The contributions were made to Kemp’s Georgians First Leadership Committee, which was created after he signed a bill in secret to create the committee and give himself an exclusive vehicle to raise unlimited campaign cash. In doing so, Kemp not only gave himself an unfair advantage against opponents on both sides of the aisle, but also provided himself a loophole from a thirty-year old ethics law prohibiting fundraising during the legislative session.

A Continued Pattern: In 2018, an AJC investigation found that Kemp accepted over $325,000 in contributions from entities under his oversight as Secretary of State, and noted that “the legality of some of these donations is in question.” Exactly how much Kemp raked in is unknown because he failed to properly fill out his disclosure, leaving out critical information for almost 40% of his donors. At the time, critics said “such donations could undermine the credibility of one of the state’s top regulators,” and two previous secretaries of state said they returned similar donations to comply with the law and avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Read more on Brian Kemp’s “pay to play” campaign fundraising below:

11Alive: Kemp names big political donors to Board of Regents

  • 11Alive’s Doug Richards: There is no law that says that the governor can’t appoint big money contributors to the Board of Regents, which is exactly what Governor Kemp has done.
  • Two of the newest regents are Tom Bradbury, a homebuilder and turf farmer, and Tim Evans, a construction contractor. Months before Governor Kemp appointed them to the board, his re-election campaign benefited from some generous contributions from the pair.
  • According to state disclosures, Bradbury, his wife, and his company gave a total of $250,000 to the Georgians First Leadership Committee, a political action committee backing Governor Kemp, and Evans, his company, and his son gave Kemp’s campaign contributions of more than $51,000 combined. The take for Kemp was more than 300,000.
  • Political Scientist Andra Gillespie: “This looks something akin to pay to play…” 
  • Richards: Political scientist Andra Gillespie says governors often appoint their donors to state boards. But these contributions could cause some trouble for Kemp’s re-election.
  • A capital insider texted me to say this is exactly how the system is supposed to work, a system that appears to reward big money contributors with state appointments, and that is perfectly legal.


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