Last May, Governor Brian Kemp signed into law Senate Bill 221 (SB221), which created a new type of political committee called “leadership committees” that can accept unlimited contributions and make unlimited expenditures during the 2022 election cycle and in future elections. The law provides that leadership committees are available to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and their respective general-election opponents (i.e., any party nominee for Governor or Lt. Governor selected in the primary), as well as to the majority and minority caucuses in the state Senate and House of Representatives.
A leadership committee differs from the traditional campaign finance committees: political action committee (PAC) and independent committee (a.k.a. super PAC). PACs can accept unlimited donations but are limited to making capped contributions to candidates or their campaign committees. Independent committees can both accept unlimited contributions and make unlimited expenditures but are not allowed to coordinate with candidates, whereas leadership committees have no such prohibition. Leadership committees, however, have more stringent reporting requirements than independent committees and must register with the state after spending or receiving $500, compared to a $25,000 threshold for PACs.
Governor Kemp created his leadership committee shortly after SB211 took effect last July and has been fundraising into it since. His committee will soon (by February 7) need to file its first disclosure report showing what has been raised so far. In the meantime, former Senator David Perdue, who is running against Governor Kemp and cannot have a leadership committee (unless he becomes the Republican gubernatorial nominee), is challenging the constitutionality of such committees in a federal lawsuit he filed last month.
On January 31, 2022, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Cohen held a hearing on former Senator Perdue’s motion for a preliminary injunction but did not issue a ruling. Instead, Judge Cohen asked the parties to complete additional briefing which will conclude on February 4, 2022. Given the expedited briefing schedule, a fairly quick ruling seems likely. Regardless of how the court rules, it will have a consequential impact on fundraising for arguably the most important election in Georgia this year.
The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent clients of all types and sizes in connection with campaign finance and election law. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.