Atlanta News First reported that the Georgia secretary of state’s investigation involves “potential election law violations from a series of pro-Walker events.”
The recently formed super PAC, 34N22, is openly for Walker. The group’s name is a reference to the jersey number Walker wore as an NFL player and this year’s midterms.
Over the summer, the organization sent reps to largely Black neighborhoods to distribute vouchers at gas stations and grocery stores. The giveaways seemed like naked attempts to curry favor with a voting group Walker has spurned (more on that in a bit).
A spokesperson for 34N22 has said the giveaways are meant to help African Americans cope with inflation and gas prices, despite the fact Walker himself has repeatedly railed against measures passed by Democrats to help people do the same. (In a Sept. 30 letter to the Georgia secretary of state’s office, an attorney for the group said the giveaways had nothing to do with voting.)
In June, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution described one of the gas giveaways as an explicitly pro-Walker affair:
Motorists in the heavily Democratic area were handed vouchers — a combined $4,000 worth — along with flyers promoting Walker, a former football player who is now the Republican nominee. Outside the gas station, volunteers held signs declaring “Warnock isn’t working.”
Walker is a slavish supporter of former President Donald Trump, and he has publicly berated Black people for everything from purported inclinations toward violence to insufficient parenting — rich claims from a man who has been accused of both. In other words: He has an awful rapport with Black people. Walker’s abysmal polling among Black folks this summer confirmed as much.
But 34N22’s gimmick seems clear: associate Walker with compassion and generosity while his party is pushing for spending and tax cuts that are likely to hurt Black people disproportionately.
Nonetheless, Georgia Democrats and voting rights activists have noted the absurdity here: Georgia Republicans passed a law last year that bans people from handing out water and food to voters waiting in line, but giving money to potential voters is OK?
Right-wing activist Angela Stanton-King helped feed suspicion that Walker was behind the vouchers when she stood outside a gas station this summer and said Walker had personally authorized the giveaways. That would violate election laws restricting contact between super PACs and the candidates they support. (The Walker campaign has denied being involved in the giveaways.)
Walker and his Democratic opponent, Sen. Raphael Warnock, appear to be neck and neck, if you believe recent polls. The pro-Walker giveaways were an early sign that Walker’s allies knew they’d need to shed some of Warnock’s Black support to eke out a victory. This method may prove both ineffective and illegal in the long run.