Information compiled from Abrams’ social media accounts and various news outlets cross-referenced to Abrams’ per diem account schedule indicates that Abrams, on numerous occasions, collected state reimbursements for activities on days without state business. The comparison encompasses the six years she was Minority Leader.
While Abrams served as Minority Leader, it was expected that she would be among the top recipients of per diem days, as reported by the AJC in September, but in question is whether or not those per diem days were related to her official capacity for the State of Georgia. The September article said Abrams “began collecting daily payments from the state at almost twice the rate of her predecessor” once she became Minority Leader.
But some of the events attended while collecting per diem reimbursements include Democratic Party events, Hillary Clinton speeches, and so-called “Resistance” events in 2017, which would not qualify as state business and total more than $11,500 in reimbursements.
What are per diem days?
House and Senate members can file for per diem, otherwise known as daily expenses, when they conduct state business outside of the 40 legislative days and the legislative session. The only requirement is that it must be official state business, like a legislative committee meeting, community gatherings, or constituent services.
Lawmakers are awarded $173 per day, plus mileage reimbursements. It all operates largely on the honor system with very little oversight that has arguably been abused by both parties over the years. Lawmakers reportedly aren’t required to submit receipts or log miles.
The per diem days are specifically for “Official Business” related to the state of Georgia and are not to include political events or personal soirees.
So what about Abrams per diem collections?
Abrams was always among the top pier diem recipients and the #1 collector in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
|YEAR||DAYS COLLECTED OUTSIDE OF SESSION|
*Information from the AJC as reported in September 2018
So what did Abrams collect the per diem days for? Abrams frequently traveled around the state and country to give speeches at events that were political in nature and collected per diem anyway. Highlights from the full list, which is at the bottom of the article, include:
In 2012, Abrams filed for per diem for a Planned Parenthood event, an Obama reception, a trip to the Wilkinson Democrat Party of Georgia, two fundraisers for herself, delivery of Meals on Wheels, and a wreath ceremony, among other things. A total of 14 questionable per diem days totaling $2,422.
In 2013, questionable per diem days include galas, breakfasts with advocacy groups, and promotion of the Affordable Care Act, among other things. 17 days are in question for a total of $2,941.
In 2014, questionable events included an Atlanta Dream game, addressing the progressive women’s group ‘Emily’s List,’ speaking engagements with lobbying and advocacy organizations, and tours of the Port that were used politically. 10 days are in question, for a total of $1,730.
In 2015, there is only one per diem day in question. The per diem would be $173 plus any mileage.
In 2016, Abrams collected per diem days for trips to San Francisco to visit PACS, attend lobbying dinners in Savannah, hit the campaign trail with other Democrats, listened to Hillary Clinton speak at Planned Parenthood in D.C., speeches she gave at Yale, and appeared on CNBC, among other things. A total of 14 questionable per diem days totaling $2,422.
In 2017, Abrams took per diem days to attend at least three Resist! town halls, speak at a rally on health care, claim an honorary doctorate degree, speak at a commencement ceremony and the Atlanta Rotary Club,
The following days were dates for which Abrams collected per diem reimbursements for “official state of Georgia business” but appear to have more political leanings that official business. 11 days raise questions, for a total of $1,903.
The grand total comes to $11,591 in per diem days in question.
In the September AJC article referenced earlier, Abrams spokeswoman Priyanka Mantha said that Abrams “kept a busy schedule as minority leader.” She resigned from her position in the Georgia House on August 25, 2017 to run for Governor.
What does Abrams say about it now?
AllOnGeorgia reached out to the Abrams campaign, seeking comment and the public release of her calendars given the most recent information. Abrams spokesperson Priyanka Mantha focused on Kemp, saying:
“”In the aftermath of Stacey Abrams clear debate victory, Brian Kemp and allies in the right wing media are attempting to smear Stacey Abrams to distract from his reckless agenda that puts Georgia businesses and families at risk. While Kemp campaigns on the taxpayer’s dime, Abrams continues to earn support from Georgians with her plans for job creation, Medicaid expansion, and improving public education.”
Abrams’ opponents, Republican Brian Kemp and Libertarian Ted Metz, both offered commentary of the alleged abuse of the system.
Kemp Press Secretary Cody Hall said in a statement:
“Stacey Abrams used her experience as a tax lawyer to create a web of secret non-profits that paid her over $300,000 for part-time work. It’s no surprise that she also used her position as Minority Leader to cheat Georgia taxpayers. Abrams should be investigated immediately.” – Cody Hall, Press Secretary
Metz said, “Abrams’ abuse of office illustrates the lack of oversight and punishment for ethics violations that are pervasive in politics (as a whole, not just in Georgia). Casey Cagle was never held to account for the $250,000 in private flights charged to the taxpayers while hocking his book. Brian Kemp using his Hurricane Michael disaster tour as a campaign opportunity while receiving his salary is another example of questionable ethics. If anyone took the time to investigate, they’d find plenty of dirty laundry across the spectrum of government to the smallest city level.”
Democrats recently held a press conference to discuss Kemp’s private calendar, and released it to the public, but have not made Abrams’ calendars publicly available for review.
You can see the information, with supporting social media posts and other information, below.
In many of the instances where an event was noted social media, a #gapol (representing “Georgia Politics) or a #gadem (representing Georgia Democrat) hashtag were used, indicating a political nature. Hyperlinked words indicate supporting evidence of the event’s occurrence.
2014 — Abrams began running the “New Georgia Project” as part of her Third Sector Development foundation
|March 27, 2014||Latin American Chamber of Commerce Breakfast|
|May 23, 2014||Attended the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) conference that year was held in Atlanta||Spoke on Twitter discussing the importance of electing democrats & pushing Medicaid expansion|
|July 1, 2014||Atlanta Dream game with Kathy Betty|
|July 10, 2014||Spoke at Emily’s List / Essence Debates luncheon event||Emily’s List is a progressive advocacy organization that pushes women’s health care, equal pay, and paid leave.|
|July 17, 2014||Speaker at Netroots Nation Conference in Detroit|
|August 7, 2014||Toured the Port of Savannah||But tweets tagged #DemsInSavannah indicating she considered it to be a partisan event.|
|August 8, 2014||Noted visiting Savannah State University with @GABudget @AFLCIOGeorgia @Georgiaeducator||With the hashtags #DemsInSavannah|
|September 4, 2014||Hinesville, Liberty County to speak to the Community of Inspired Women||Facebook group: “We’re excited to host novelist Selena Montgomery tonight. She will inspire us with her talk on balancing her careers as a novelist, lawyer and Georgia Representative Stacey Abrams.”|
|September 8, 2014||Atlanta Regional Leadership Institute speaker|
|October 24, 2014||GALEO Institute for Leadership 2014 series of classes|
|August 27, 2015||GALEO event speaker||GALEO & American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS for another Charlar and Challah Series: Community Issues in Justice|
|April 14, 2016||Abrams was campaigning in Augusta with Rep. Earnest Smith and Rep. Gloria Frazier|
|May 3, 2016||Attended GA WIN List event in Savannah.|
|May 18, 2016||In San Francisco, Steve Phillips of PowerPAC at 6:30p at the Commonwealth Club.|
|June 1, 2016||Girls Who Code event in Atlanta.|
|June 3, 2016||Attended a fundraiser for the GA Dem Party at Venkman’s in Atlanta.|
|June 8, 2016||Meet and greet with the Glynn County Democrats on St. Simons Island from 5-6:30p||On the Glynn County Dem FB page is a photo of Abrams at the event on June 8.|
|June 10, 2016||Listened to Hillary Clinton speak at Planned Parenthood Conference in DC|
|June 15, 2016||Speaker at the Women’s Campaign School at Yale.|
|June 25, 2016||Georgia Cities Conference in Savannah|
|June 30, 2016||Fundraiser for fundraiser at the home of Teresa Wynn Roseborough|
|September 22, 2016||Developing Leaders of Today & Tomorrow for the City of Atlanta” breakfast.
Then traveled to Albany to speak
|September 28, 2016||Received Policy Powerhouse award from @healthyfutureGA|
|October 11, 2016||Fundraiser for Donna Brazile – a democrat in Georgia|
|October 27, 2016||Appeared on CNBC Squawk Box to “discuss the dynamics that will help Hillary Clinton win in Georgia|
|February 6, 2017||Georgia Resists Town Hall||AJC Coverage|
|February 11, 2017||Town Hall in Ellenwood, hosted by and paid for by the Democratic Party of Georgia|
|February 20, 2017||Spoke at “Save Our Care Rally”|
|April 6, 2017||Attended Macon Resists Town Hall sponsored by the Democratic House Caucus||Macon is not in her former House district|
|April 10, 2017||Spelman College Founders Day||With her parents and brother|
|April 11, 2017||Received honorary doctorate from Spelman|
|April 17, 2017||Savannah Resists Town Hall||Also spoke with spoke with Brian Lehrer of WNYC public radio in NYC about the Ossoff election.|
|April 19, 2017||Slate’s Trumpcast to “discuss what the path forward looks like for Dems after the GA special election.|
|May 18, 2017||Georgia Gwinnett College graduation commencement||Keynote speaker|
|May 22, 2017||Speaker at Atlanta Rotary Club|
|June 9, 2017||Spoke at National Federation of Democratic Women event||Promoted with the hashtag #DemWomenLead|