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More than a half-million dollars appears to be missing from the New Georgia Project, a charity linked to two-time Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, leading experts to claim that is grounds for federal and state investigators to probe the discrepancy.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, in January, the New Georgia Project submitted its 2021 Form 990 financial disclosure to the IRS, two months after the due date, and three months after Nse Ufot, the CEO hand-picked by Abrams, was fired by the charity’s board chairman.
The financial disclosure revealed a $533,846 consulting payment and a $67,500 grant to the Black Male Initiative, an obscure charity partially run by Ufot’s brother, Edima, who was a former employee of the New Georgia Project. However, the Black Male Initiative has denied receiving any consulting payment and provided the outlet with its IRS financial disclosures, showing no income from consulting and only $255,000 in contributions from all sources in 2021.
The missing money has raised ethical concerns, adding to the challenges facing the troubled charity. Earlier in November, the Free Beacon reported that the New Georgia Project was in turmoil as former senior staff accused the leadership of engaging in widespread financial misconduct. Furthermore, Georgia’s state ethics commission has alleged that the group unlawfully worked to elect Abrams during her unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial campaign against current Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican.
“This is something that the Internal Revenue Service should be interested in, particularly with the added element of the former officer possibly pocketing the money,” Alan Dye, a nonprofit attorney, told the outlet.
“Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark,” he said, noting further that it’s a crime to file a false statement knowingly with the federal government, per the Free Beacon.
Established by Abrams in 2013, the New Georgia Project has been a prominent player in the Democratic Party’s endeavors to turn Georgia blue by expanding the state’s non-white electorate. The organization, along with its affiliated New Georgia Project Action Fund, has been among the largest left-leaning voter registration efforts in the nation, raising a total of $54.7 million since 2020.
A critical figure in this effort was Nse Ufot, a Nigerian community organizer who was residing in Canada when Abrams convinced her to relocate to Georgia in 2014 to lead the New Georgia Project. However, Ufot’s leadership tenure with the organization came to an unexpected end in October 2022 under unclear circumstances, the outlet noted.
At one point, the Free Beacon noted, Ufot’s brother, Edima, joined the initiative, though it remains unclear when Edima became part of the New Georgia Project. According to a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in January 2020, he served as the group’s community organizing director. Edima Ufot no longer works for the New Georgia Project and currently serves as the lead organizer for Black Male Initiative, the Free Beacon added.
In addition to the unaccounted $533,000, the New Georgia Project’s tax forms have further discrepancies, with information that accountants believe is “impossible.” For instance, the organization’s 2020 financial disclosure reveals that it did not pay any payroll taxes that year, a claim that accountants find questionable, said the outlet
“I have no idea how a charity can have 173 paid employees and pay no payroll taxes. It’s just not possible,” Dye told the Free Beacon. “I can’t answer that question. There should be no excuse for that.”
“Such a bizarre discrepancy is highly unusual and certainly cause to question the merits of the accountant,” Scott Walter, president of the Capital Research Center, a charity watchdog group, told the outlet as well. “In a proper accounting firm, at least two or three people would have had to examine the return before sending it to the group, and no such wild error should have been missed.”
“New Georgia Project’s recent tax returns leave so many questions, it’s difficult to know where to even begin trying to understand these important documents,” added Caitlin Sutherland, the executive director of the charity watchdog Americans for Public Trust, according to the Free Beacon. “Filing a fraudulent return with the IRS carries hefty penalties, and any evidence of financial malfeasance should be taken seriously.”