Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp admitted Sunday that his office opened an investigation into his opponent Stacey Abrams’ party. The secretary of state’s office oversees elections, putting Kemp in charge of his own election — because he still hasn’t recused himself from the role.
The office is refusing to release details or evidence of the claim, citing an “ongoing investigation,” but said the state’s voter registration system was “hacked” Saturday night. The Democratic Party of Georgia has decried the investigation as an “abuse of power” and says the claims are completely false.
“While we cannot comment on the specifics of an ongoing investigation, I can confirm that the Democratic Party of Georgia is under investigation for possible cyber crimes,” said Candice Broce, spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office. “We can also confirm that no personal data was breached and our system remains secure.”
Democratic candidate for Georgia governor Stacey Abrams spoke about Kemp’s ploy during an appearance on CNN (around the 7:10 mark). She said the stunt was desperate. Kemp couldn’t respond because he refused to appear on the show.
But the mere fact of the investigation, whether it goes anywhere or not, represents a massive conflict of interest: Kemp has refused to recuse himself from overseeing the very election in which he’s running. He’s acting as both the chief election administrator, ostensibly to ensure a fair and free outcome, and candidate.
His track record as secretary of state is defined by rank incompetence: Under Kemp’s leadership, the secretary of state’s office has lost a long list of legal battles in which judges have found that their policies prevent people — disproportionately people of color, who tend to vote for Democrats — from participating in elections. As recently as Friday, a judge ruled that Kemp could not prevent more than 3,000 people from voting under the state’s exact match law. Kemp’s office had put the applications on hold because of concerns that the voters were not citizens.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to accurately reflect the legal ruling against Kemp’s exact match law.