I don’t know what her future holds but I do know that she is doing very important work right now. She is funding voter protection programs in 20 battleground states to stop Republicans from taking away the right to vote. I can’t think of a more important project for a leader like her. She could have run for President like some other “rising stars” but she decided to put together what looks like the largest voter protection program in history.
And guess what? That takes money.
Stacey Abrams’s organization, Fair Fight 2020, has raised a lot of it. From a lot of small donors and a few big ones too. According to the group’s tweets, Abrams has raised money from Bernie Sanders. She’s raised money from Elizabeth Warren. She’s raised money from Cory Booker (which is pretty awesome since he ran out of cash but still supported her cause). And, yeah, she’s raised money from Mike Bloomberg. $5 million to be exact. (Tom Steyer hasn’t given to Fair Fight according to my FEC searches, but he should be shamed until he does.) It’s the Bloomberg donation that is getting a lot of focus, and fair enough, it’s a lot of money. You can say whether or not you agree with it, and if you like, you can provide a strategically wise rationale for how the cause of voting rights would have somehow been better off if she turned down that money. But saying that a strong black woman who grew up poor in the Deep South can be “bought” by a white billionaire is… something. Something pretty racist actually. Something I’d expect to read in a Donald Trump tweet, not in a Daily Kos post.
Or, to put it another way, would you rather Bloomberg spend $5 million more on TV ads and fancy iPhone 11s for his staff, or would you rather he gives it to Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight 2020? Heck, maybe the only problem with this donation was that it could have been bigger.
And here’s the fun part. Since Stacey was “bought” and all… What did Michael Bloomberg get from Stacey Abrams for his $5 million? From my research, basically nothing. He didn’t get an endorsement. He didn’t get a big press conference or a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Not even a joint video that I can find. It appears he attended a closed-door meeting with Abrams and people who are part of her voter protection brigade. Easy Google search results show that Abrams has had closed-door meetings with all or almost all of the presidential candidates… and good! They could use her advice on mobilizing and protecting voters.
And this from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution: “She’s met with… Klobuchar… Warren… Harris… Hickenlooper…”
Stacey Abrams simply knows that running a big organization takes a lot of money, and she’s good at raising it. She can’t raise as much money as Sanders or Warren or Mayor Pete from small-dollar donors because giving a contribution to a voting rights organization is not as glamorous as giving it to your favorite presidential candidate. Whether you’re Michael Bloomberg or a small-dollar donor, Fair Fight 2020 needs money to protect the right to vote, so she’s taken small and large contributions to fund her vital program.
And good. Voters everywhere are better for it.