State investigating Hershel Walker Super PAC around gas, food voucher giveaways
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Friday, the Secretary of State’s office confirmed it has opened an investigation into 34N22, a pro-Hershel Walker Super PAC.
A spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office could not elaborate on the details of the investigation, but Atlanta News First has learned that it surrounds potential election law violations from a series of pro-Walker events.
From June to September, 34N22 hosted six events in which they handed out gas and food vouchers at gas stations and grocery stores.
According to correspondence acquired by Atlanta News First between a Secretary of State investigator and the law firm represented 34N22, those events took place in the Georgia cities of Atlanta, Macon, Savannah, Jefferson, Preston, and Washington.
State Code, OCGA 21-2-570, states:
“Any person who gives or receives, offers to give or receive, or participates in the giving or receiving of money or gifts for the purpose of registering as a voter, voting, or voting for a particular candidate in any primary or election shall be guilty of a felony.”
As part of its response to state questions, the attorney representing 34N22 argued that no violations occurred because vouchers were not contingent on a promise of a Walker vote.
“34N22 did not directly or indirectly condition the distribution of vouchers on any recipient’s agreement to register to vote, to vote for or against any particular candidate, or to vote at all,” wrote Carolyn “Tippi” Cain Burch with The Burch Firm, LLC.
Burch went on to write,
“a recipient’s actual, stated or perceived voter registration status, political party affiliation, voting decisions, or candidate preferences in no way affected his or her eligibility for a voucher.”
Constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kreis told Atlanta News First the super PAC toed the line of legality.
“We’re operating in a gray area where it’s not really a quid-pro-quo, but it’s certainly a wink and a nod. Vote for Hershel and you’ll get this voucher,” said Kreis, in an interview with Atlanta News First on Friday.
“So I think there’s a case to be made that this is illegal under Georgia law, but there’s also a case to be made that it’s not,” Kreis continued.
This investigation comes just months after the state legislature passed SB-202, which among other things, restricts anyone from handing out water or food within 150 feet of a polling place.
While none of the events in question occurred at a polling site, Kreis contends that rules in SB-202 could challenge the legality of the super PAC’s actions.
“It really would be quite inconsistent to say that you can’t charitably give somebody food or water without any mention of a candidate, any mention of a political party, but you can be a political PAC and actively electioneering for a candidate and giving out gifts. So, there’s a real consistency problem here if it’s not illegal under Georgia state law,” said Kreis.
In a media advisory ahead of a June gas voucher giveaway in Atlanta, a representative for 34N22 wrote,
“On Saturday, any Atlanta customer who pulls up to the gas station will receive a $25 gas voucher for free gas as well as literature about the upcoming U.S. Senate race. 34N22 will be giving away $4,000 worth of gas until voucher supplies run out. Grassroots supporters for Herschel Walker will also be on hand, and a 34N22 surrogate will be available for interviews,” read the press release, sent to Atlanta News First, formerly known as CBS46.
A spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office said a ruling could come at any time and is not guaranteed before the November 8 election.
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