Top Georgia Democrats lined up behind their party’s nominee for president after a rough few days raised new questions about Hillary Clinton and her trustworthiness.
Some of the Democratic nominee’s key Georgia backers said their support for Clinton has not changed despite a brutal week that included news of a fresh trove of 15,000 emails from her time as secretary of state and an Associated Press report that more than half of the non-government officials Clinton met with while serving in the Obama administration were donors to her foundation.
The Clinton campaign dismissed the AP report as “grossly unfair” and “inaccurate,” and top Georgia Democrats also brushed off the news. Several defended the work of the Clinton Foundation and cited news reports aimed at discrediting the AP’s investigation.
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, said the story reported “smoke where there is no fire” and were “to be expected as the Clinton campaign begins to pull away from the failing Donald Trump.”
“The Clinton Foundation is a legitimate and renowned charitable organization employing hundreds of dedicated professionals who have helped improve the lives of millions of Americans and the less fortunate around the world, especially women and children,” Johnson said. “There is no evidence of any corrupt activity by Hillary Clinton or the Clinton Foundation.”
Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, also used a smoke analogy in defense of Clinton and her family’s foundation.
“The AP story has already been discredited as a smoke and mirrors analysis that demonstrates that precisely nothing wrong occurred,” Abrams said in a statement. She compared the work of the Clinton family to that of former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and Elizabeth Dole heading the American Red Cross.
“Surely some folks who benefited from or donated to the Red Cross sat in Dole’s office at some point but no one asked it to stop serving disaster victims,” she said. “The false equivalence of race-baiting, hate-inducing politics being compared to the vital work of fighting AIDS, expanding microcredit and saving lives is wrong-headed and unworthy.”
Spokespeople for the Georgia Democratic Party and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, one of Clinton’s biggest Georgia surrogates, declined to comment on this week’s events.
The recent headlines were unwelcome news for the Clinton campaign, which is looking to combat sky-high unfavorability ratings in Georgia and elsewhere. A recent AJC poll indicated that 58 percent of Peach State voters held an unfavorable view of Clinton, the same percentage of people that negatively viewed Donald Trump.
State Sen. Vincent Fort, Bernie Sanders’ top Georgia surrogate, said Clinton had work to do in terms of transparency. But he said the Democratic nominee still bested Trump in his book.
“I’m a strong Bernie Supporter, but at the end of the day Donald Trump would be a catastrophe for this country,” Fort said in an interview. He said of Clinton, “Before these most recent revelations she was 100 times better than Donald Trump. Now she’s 99 times better than Donald Trump.”