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Raphael Warnock spent $1M in campaign cash on security despite dark money 'defund police' ties

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 11/21/2022 Gabe Kaminsky
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EXCLUSIVE — Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) has shelled out large sums in campaign money this election cycle for security despite him having close ties to liberal dark money groups aligned with the "defund police" movement, filings show.

Warnock's campaign dished out roughly $1 million between January 2021 and October 2022 to five security firms, according to Federal Election Commission filings reviewed by the Washington Examiner. At the same time, however, the Georgia Democrat has been endorsed by several dark money nonprofit organizations that have supported defunding law enforcement.

The bulk of the campaign money went to Executive Protection Agencies, an Atlanta-based limited liability corporation. The group received about $997,000, whereas a combined $2,870 was paid to Taylor Security, the Gorilla Group, T4 Enterprises, and K9 All Systems, filings show.

Political campaigns typically allocate certain funds for security and cybersecurity services, and doing so is often viewed as warranted amid an uptick of lawmakers being attacked or threatened. Still, Warnock's GOP opponent in Georgia's senate runoff, former NFL player Herschel Walker, has spent only about $12,000 on security between February and September, filings show.

“Raphael Warnock is the man who infamously called police officers ‘thugs’ and ‘bullies,’ so it comes as no surprise that he would accept endorsements from defund-the-police groups," Danielle Repass, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Republican Party, told the Washington Examiner. "The Democrat Party’s national pastime is hypocrisy, and Warnock’s proclivity for ‘elite’ million-dollar private security is just his way of keeping up with other far-leftists."

The "defund police" movement gained steam after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May 2020. Following Floyd's murder, there were mass "racial justice" protests and riots across the United States. Multinational corporations joined left-wing activists in supporting the idea of defunding the police, although most groups have reversed their positions following violent crime spikes.

Nonprofit groups with 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status are often called "dark money" hubs because they do not legally have to disclose their donors to the IRS. One such group is Color of Change, which endorsed Warnock in September and bills itself as "the nation’s largest online racial justice organization."

Color of Change is headquartered in Oakland, California, according to its tax forms. The group has repeatedly called to defund the police and backed a failed initiative to strip resources from the Police Department in Minneapolis.

In November 2021, voters in Minneapolis rejected a ballot measure by a 56% margin that would have replaced the city's Police Department with a "public safety" department and removed officer staffing minimums.

"Policing is a violent institution that must end," said Color of Change President Rashad Robinson in 2021. "We imagine a country where there is enough money to educate our children, care for our sick and feed those who are financially unstable. Defunding the police allows for this vision."

Color of Change has circulated numerous defund-the-police petitions in connection to Minneapolis and the U.S., as a whole. One petition, "Tell Congress: Defund the Police," claimed law enforcement doesn't keep "communities safe" and is "dangerous." The petition also claimed the lives of the public "literally depend" on "reducing federal funding to police."

The Washington Examiner asked Color of Change if it still supports "defunding police." However, the organization declined to comment.

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Another dark money group that endorsed Warnock is the Sierra Club, which lobbies on environmental issues and has chapters in all 50 states. The Sierra Club is well known for its opposition to the fossil fuels industry and pushing a green energy agenda.

The Sierra Club promoted a memo in 2020 titled "The Time Has Come To Defund The Police." The memo claimed "police do not keep us safe" and called for "removing police from schools and universities" as well as limiting the ability of police departments to access certain federal grant programs.

"When we joined our partners in calling for the immediate defunding of the police, we did it specifically to put an end to terrorism against Black and Brown people by law enforcement," tweeted the Sierra Club in August 2020.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the lobbying arm of the national Planned Parenthood group, has also endorsed Warnock and supported defunding the police. The dark money group published an article in June 2020 called "Defunding the Police: What it Means and Why Planned Parenthood Supports It" that demanded national, state, and local governments "shift away from massive spending on police forces."

"Planned Parenthood is committed to advocating for policies that will dismantle the system of white supremacy and oppression of communities of color — including policies to end police violence," the article stated.

The Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, the lobbying arm of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental nonprofit group, is another group that has endorsed Warnock. The fund signed on to a petition led by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MN) that supported the movement to defund police in Minneapolis.

"We must shrink police power and budgets and instead invest in community-led health and safety solutions, as well as resources for Black people to survive and thrive," read the petition, which called on all public schools to "cut ties with police."

Other dark money organizations that endorsed Warnock and have called to defund the police include NARAL Pro-Choice America, a pro-abortion group, and two environmental groups — League of Conservation Voters and the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund.

Warnock has said he does not support the "defund police" movement. The senator did say several times in 2020 that the U.S. should "re-imagine" how police and communities interact.

"Warnock paying for security detail is like an arsonist paying for a firefighter suit," Stephen Lawson, a Republican strategist in Georgia, told the Washington Examiner.

The runoff between Warnock and Walker is slated for Dec. 6, and it is likely to be the most expensive out of all the midterm elections as outside groups steer hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns and independent expenditures.

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Warnock's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

 

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Tags: Midterms 2022, Raphael Warnock, Herschel Walker, Georgia, Congress

Original Author: Gabe Kaminsky

Original Location: Raphael Warnock spent $1M in campaign cash on security despite dark money 'defund police' ties

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