FILE - In this May 22, 2018, file photo, Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams smiles before speaking to supporters during an election-night watch party in Atlanta. More women than ever before have won their primaries for governor, U.S. Senate and House this year. That’s setting a record and paving the way for battles in November that could significantly increase the number of women in elected office. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

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
2011 155
2012 144
2013 141
2014 54
2015 80
2016 72

*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.

2012

Date Event Details
Apr 18, 2012 Abrams addressed the Grand Rounds at Emory University The legislature had adjourned and the bill Abrams claimed to be fighting had already passed.

Emory is not in her district

April 27, 2012 Served as official greeter to Obama at Fort Stewart in southeast Georgia #gapol and #gadem indicating she believed it to be a political event.
May 15, 2012 Fundraiser for Abrams at the Commerce Club indicated by email blast Also promoted on Twitter
May 18, 2012 Wreath ceremony for Lt. Westmoreland Commemorated the event on social media with the hashtags #gapol and #gadem
May 24, 2012 Planned Parenthood event honoring Kay Scott Honoring Kay Scott – the former CEO of Planned Parenthood
June 2, 2012 Visited with Wilkinson County Democrats
June 21, 2012 USA India Business Summit Banquet and Awards dinner. Used #GaDem hashtag
June 27, 2012 Abrams attended the @rightsctr groundbreaking with Andrew Young and mayor Franklin.
June 27, 2012 Spoke at the graduation of Year Up
August 21, 2012 Fundraiser for Abrams and Georgia Next At home of Dana Halberg & Larry Pless
October 3, 2012
  1. Student debate at Lowery Institute
  2. Attended attended an AFL-CIO debate watch party
October 6, 2012 Georgia National Fair in Perry
November 10, 2012 GA Hispanic Construction Association Annual Awards Dinner
November 27, 2012 Delivered Meals on Wheels

 

2013

Date Event Details
April 5, 2013 Gala with Mayor Shirley Franklin & Rep. Sewell
May 8, 2013 Speaker at dinner for “transportation ministers, ambassadors, and consuls learning from HJIA” HJIA stands for Hartsfield Jackson International Airport
May 22, 2013 Fundraiser hosted by legal community Twitter promo
June 21, 2013 Day with Georgia Asian American Commissions Tweet
July 5, 2013 Addressed the NEA state delegation Tweets from the day highlighted a political tone
August 15, 2013 Speaker at Teamsters National Black Caucus meeting
September 10, 2013 Visited Emory Law to speak with BLSA members for annual lecture series
September 19, 2013 Asian American Peace Officers of Georgia
September 28, 2013 Urban League Young Professionals & Newton County NAACP Tweet 2
September 30, 2013 Atlanta Regional Leadership Institute
October 1, 2013 Advocating for health care exchanges
October 16, 2013 Spoke at AFL CIO convention in Savannah
October 18, 2013 Acceptance of Legislator of the Year Award from Georgia Women
October 24, 2013 Interviewing to media to discuss Affordable Care Act
October 28, 2013 Affordable Care Act Townhall at a church (NOTE: She tweeted that on Oct 27, 2013 she would be holding a townhall re: ACA but did not claim this day as a per diem. (https://twitter.com/staceyabrams/status/394229486000304128))
November 18, 2013 Affordable Care Act work in Thomasville
November 22, 2013 Tweeted Home from a great visit to White County to discuss 2014 elections, #ACA & becoming better agitators.”

 

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

 

2015

August 27, 2015 GALEO event speaker GALEO & American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS for another Charlar and Challah Series: Community Issues in Justice

 

2016

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

 

2017

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

 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. “Lawmakers are awarded $173 per day, plus mileage reimbursements. It all operates largely on the honor system with very little oversight.”

    Key word “HONOR” of which some folks have none…

  2. I think it’s ridiculous to claim that Ms. Abrams collected per diem incorrectly. The vast majority of the trips she took WAS as a Leader in the Democratic Party. Brian Kemp is CAMPAIGNING during the work day. That’s a clear conflict of interest. He should be in the office from 8-5 EARNING his 7 figure paycheck.

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