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A report highlighted more than 200 contributions to Willis’ campaign with no donor information.
This isn’t proof of a money laundering scheme. Georgia’s campaign finance laws don’t require donor information for donations worth $100 and below.
All the contributions with no donor information were within this range.
The Atlanta prosecutor leading the election subversion case against former President Donald Trump has faced scrutiny from Trump’s supporters. But a social media claim that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been "busted" for fraud and money laundering is simply wrong..
"Georgia D.A Fani Willis BUSTED in MASSIVE Money Laundreing (sic) & Election Fraud Enterprise Scheme," read the caption of a Sept. 20 Facebook video.
A screenshot of an X post shown in the video read, "The investigators identified in the Fani Willis campaign finance report 222 contributions to her campaign that had ZERO donor information."
This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
(Screenshot from Facebook)
Willis, who is leading an investigation into Trump and his former allies, took office Jan. 1, 2021. The claim in the video stemmed from an Aug. 31 report in The Georgia Record, which centered on contributions made from January 2022 to June 2023.
The Georgia Record, once a local news site, is owned by Creative Destruction Media, a far-right publisher. The Georgia Record publishes articles that favor Republican personalities, and has also promoted anti-vaccine sentiments and those that sow doubt against election integrity.
We downloaded and analyzed the data used in the article, sourced from the Georgia Campaign Finance System. It’s not the smoking gun this post claims it to be.
"Having anonymous donors in a campaign finance report is not in and of itself an indication of fraud," Andra Gillespie, Emory University associate professor of political science, told PolitiFact.
The Georgia Record’s report highlighted only the absence of donor information; it omitted context about how much these anonymous donors contributed, and what the rules are about disclosing donor information. Georgia’s campaign finance laws state that campaign finance disclosure reports should include the donor’s name, occupation, mailing address, contribution amount, contribution receipt date, employer and election for which the contribution was accepted and allocated.
But there’s a caveat: this information is required only for contributions exceeding $100.
The Georgia Record’s report was mostly accurate in saying there were 222 entries with no donor information. But it missed that, among these entries, 220 of them listed contribution amounts of $100 or less.
"Information is not required to be collected or released for contributions of $100 or less. So these small contributions are not evidence of money laundering," said Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political science professor.
The other two entries with no donor information had the description "Transfer Balance from Legacy System" and were dated Dec. 31, 2020. Gillespie said the transfer date suggested this was surplus money from Willis’ district attorney campaign. Bullock agreed that these may be leftover funds from her previous campaign.
"It’s completely bogus," Alan Abramovitz, Emory University professor emeritus who specializes in national politics and elections, said of the claim. "These were small donations that are not covered by the disclosure requirement. And the folks making this phony claim almost certainly know that."
A report claimed that Willis’ campaign finance disclosure report showing more than 200 donors with no information is proof of a money laundering scheme.
The data showed contributions from donors with no information amounted to $100 or less. This is in line with Georgia’s campaign finance laws, which require donor information only for contributions exceeding $100.
We rate this claim False.
PolitiFact, Who is Fani Willis, the prosecutor in Trump’s Fulton County, Georgia, election interference case?, July 31, 2023
X post, Sept. 2, 2023
The Georgia Record, "Explosive Revelation: Fani Willis Linked To Massive Election Fraud And Money Laundering RICO Enterprise!", Aug. 31, 2023
Georgia Campaign Finance System, All filed contributions for Fani Tafia Willis, accessed Sept. 28, 2023
Rules of the State Ethics Commission, published July 1, 2023
Email interview, Andra Gillespie, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory University, Oct. 2, 2023
Email interview, Alan I. Abramowitz, Alben W. Barkley Professor Emeritus at Emory University, Oct. 2, 2023
Email interview, Charles S. Bullock III, Distinguished University Professor of Public and International Affairs at University of Georgia, Oct. 2, 2023
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