In Leaked Audio, Georgia Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Brian Kemp Expresses Concern Over Georgians Exercising Their Right to Vote

Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp.
Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE/REX Shutterstock

The Republican gubernatorial candidate spoke to donors about the growing threat of the Stacey Abrams campaign as the midterm elections approach

Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State and the Republican nominee for Georgia governor, expressed at a ticketed campaign event that his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams’ voter turnout operation “continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote,” according to audio obtained by Rolling Stone.

An attendee of the “Georgia Professionals for Kemp” event says they recorded 21 minutes and 12 seconds of the evening, held last Friday at the Blind Pig Parlour Bar near Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood. As proof of their attendance, the source shared with Rolling Stone a receipt of their donation, which granted access to the gathering.

Not long after Kemp began his remarks, the candidate expressed worry about early voting and “the literally tens of millions of dollars that they [the Abrams camp] are putting behind the get-out-the-vote effort to their base.”

Kemp then asserted that much of what Abrams’ effort is focused on is absentee ballot requests. “They have just an unprecedented number of that,” he said, “which is something that continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote — which they absolutely can — and mail those ballots in, we gotta have heavy turnout to offset that.”

On Tuesday morning, a member of the Kemp campaign confirmed that the event took place, but the campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the specific remarks. On Monday evening, a Facebook page for the event was removed from public view. Candice Broce, the press secretary for the Georgia Secretary of State, told Rolling Stone that she does not respond to campaign-related inquiries because she represents the office.

It is fairly typical for a political candidate expressing confidence in his campaign to lament his opponent’s efforts to increase turnout. But Kemp’s position as Georgia’s Secretary of State clouds his statements. While it is not uncommon for someone in such a position to be on a ballot during an election that he or she oversees — they do have to run for re-election, after all — the state’s top elections official speaking of “concern” about increased early and absentee voting raises further questions about a conflict of interest.

Kemp’s recent decision to suspend more than 53,000 voter applications, 70 percent of which were filed by black residents, for violating the state’s “exact match” verification standard has drawn attention to his penchant for restrictive voter laws and purging of voter rolls. American Public Media reported last week that Kemp purged an estimated 107,000 voters last year simply because they didn’t vote in the prior election. He is also being sued for leaving more than 6 million Georgia voting records open to hacking.

Kemp, a staunch Trump supporter who has echoed the president’s language concerning Russia’s election interference, was also the only Secretary of State in the nation to refuse Homeland Security’s help prior to the 2016 election.

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SOURCE: Rolling Stone – Jamil Smith