Former President Donald Trump’s Political Action Committee has donated $500,000 to a group that airs attack ads in Georgia against Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
The spending appears to be aimed at boosting former U.S. Senator David Perdue, whom Trump endorsed in the GOP governor’s primary, but the ad never mentions Perdue by name.
It is the first major expenditure of Trump’s Save America PAC, underscoring Trump’s continued obsession with beating Kemp. Trump views Kemp as disloyal for refusing to help overturn his defeat in the state’s 2020 presidential election.
The ad criticizes Kemp for not doing enough to tackle voter fraud, citing discredited allegations that a Georgia law enforcement agency reviewed and dismissed.
The Save America PAC entered the year with $120 million in cash. But so far the former president has been reluctant to spend that money beyond small contributions to candidates and money spent on rallies he now holds almost weekly.
Federal campaign records show the donation went to a group called Get Georgia Right PAC in March, as Politico first reported.
The commercial began airing earlier this month, according to Kantar Media. The Associated Press also obtained a copy of a text message sent by the group to entice people to watch the ad.
The spending comes at a time when Perdue is trailing in the polls and being passed by Kemp. Perdue, who is worth $50 million, suggested he could inject some of his own money.
“We’re going to make sure this thing is well funded,” Perdue told reporters in March. “We will get our message across.
Kemp remains dismissive of Trump, with spokesman Cody Hall attacking Perdue over remarks the challenger made on Tuesday criticizing Kemp’s handling of state policing.
“David Perdue will need well over $500,000 to distract from his messy rant against the Georgia State Patrol,” Hall said.
A defeat for Perdue in Georgia in the May 24 state primary could be particularly embarrassing for Trump, who recruited Perdue to challenge Kemp and pressed another Republican – Vernon Jones – to quit the gubernatorial race and stand present to Congress instead. Trump also endorsed an extensive list of other Georgia Republicans running for statewide and congressional office.
Trump called Kemp a “defector,” a “coward” and a “complete and utter disaster” at a rally in Commerce, Georgia, last month. But the former president was coy in an April 6 interview with conservative radio host John Fredericks about whether he would make an additional rally for Perdue. He told Fredericks that it’s “not easy to beat a sitting governor, remember that”, adding that “it’s a close race and we’ll see what happens.”
Perdue replicated Trump’s lies in his own attacks on Kemp, telling the Commerce rally that “our election in 2020 was absolutely robbed.”
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report from New York.