RNC Files Lawsuit Against Georgia County Over Private Funding of Public Elections

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has taken legal action against the DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections Office alleging it unlawfully received private funding for its public election activities. The complaint, filed in the Superior Court of DeKalb County, Georgia, accuses the county of failing to adhere to Georgia’s Open Records Act by declining to provide public records focused on its dealings with the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. In February 2023, the county announced the receipt of $2 million from the Alliance, stating that it would work with a bipartisan group to share strategies and best practices in achieving excellence.

According to the Center’s 2020 tax filing, it issued a cash grant of approximately $9.6 million to DeKalb County to assist with the safe administration of public elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Center’s fiscal 2022 tax filing, which covered February 2022 through January 2023, indicates it granted DeKalb County $2 million to foster secure infrastructure, election administration, and equipment during its fiscal year. It was one of five counties to have received a grant during that period.

The Alliance was launched by the Center in April 2022 as an $80 million five-year project aimed at connecting bipartisan election officials to support each other and keep their skills current.

In the 2020 presidential elections in Georgia, President Joe Biden won about 308,000 of the 370,000 total votes cast in DeKalb County, which is Georgia’s fourth-most populous county. Biden won the state by more than 12,000 votes, according to the official results from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

Since the 2020 elections, many states have introduced measures prohibiting private funding of public elections, and on May 15, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee passed a bill implementing a similar national policy. Capital Research Center President Scott Walter had stated in February congressional testimony that the Alliance was established to evade these prohibitions and to trap local government offices.

In May 2023, a Georgia law was enacted, signed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp, requiring local governments to refuse any election funding from external groups.

The RNC requested information via the Open Records Act in November 2023 about the grant. However, in their complaint, they stated that the response from the county was slow and unproductive. The suit seeks complete disclosure of records about the grant and to hold the county accountable. It further demands that the defendants produce all the requested documents and clarify if they have withheld any document due to attorney-client privilege. Finally, the suit seeks an award of attorney fees and other litigation costs.

Alex Kaufman and Christian Zimm of Chalmers, Adams, Backer & Kaufman LLC, in Johns Creek, Georgia, signed the lawsuit. The RNC has recently filed a series of election-related lawsuits across the United States, including lawsuits in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Georgia.

Representatives from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, and DeKalb County, Georgia, did not respond to requests for comments from news reporters


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