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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has publicly allocated $112.6 million for land and training costs associated with a proposed $5 billion electric-vehicle factory planned by Rivian Automotive.
George Soros’ investment fund owns about 20 million shares of the company, or about 2%. Soros does not own the company; it is publicly owned.
It’s expected that in total, hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local government incentives will be offered to Rivian. But that has not happened.
In his bid to become governor of Georgia, David Perdue accused the incumbent, fellow Republican Brian Kemp, of subterfuge in office. He alleged that Kemp behind closed doors schemed to give "hundreds of millions of tax dollars" to a company owned by liberal billionaire George Soros.
Perdue, a former U.S. senator, and Kemp are battling for the GOP nomination to take on Democrat Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost to Kemp in 2018.
Perdue made his attack in a TV ad, deriding the first-term governor as a RINO — Republican In Name Only. The narrator in the 30-second spot says:
"A secret backroom deal between a governor and liberal billionaire George Soros. A scheme to give away hundreds of millions of tax dollars to a Soros-owned company. It’s not Stacey Abrams. It's RINO Brian Kemp. Kemp’s crooked deal cost Georgians, but made Soros even richer."
Text on the screen goes even further: "Millions of tax dollars to George Soros."
The ad misleads on several points. While the state is expected to offer a public company called Rivian Automotive, hundreds of millions of dollars in tax and other incentives, this is not a company that Soros owns. Details of the plan aren’t yet known, but it is expected that incentives would be offered to the company in exchange for a proposed factory that would bring 7,500 jobs. Once negotiations are complete, details of the deal will be made public.
The ad from Perdue, a former CEO of Reebok and two other companies, alludes to plans by California-based Rivian Automotive to build a $5 billion electric vehicle plant near Atlanta that would employ 7,500 people. Kemp announced the plans in December, calling it the largest economic project in Georgia’s history.
"Standard economic development procedure protects privacy for companies and protects state offers from competitors during the investment decision process," said Marie Gordon, spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. "The same process was followed in this project as any economic development project."
In January, Kemp allocated $112.6 million in his state budget proposal for land and training costs associated with the factory. The state legislature approved the budget, and Kemp signed it in March. That is no secret. No deal has been reached on giving Rivian hundreds of millions of tax dollars.
Perdue’s campaign argues that the deal is secret because it’s not yet known what public incentives might ultimately be offered.
It’s correct that details of tax breaks and other incentives that are likely to be offered by the state and local municipalities are not known, though they are expected to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, citing senior state officials, reported that the total package would far surpass the more than $400 million that Georgia offered Kia to win a smaller project.
The state is still working with Rivian and local government officials "to negotiate and finalize the economic development agreement," and until the agreement is signed, the project is exempt from the state open records law, the Georgia Department of Economic Development says.
"As with any economic development project, incentives are tied largely to job creation, and the benefits of such incentives will only be received by the company once long-term, full-time jobs are created," Gordon said.
Rivian is not owned by Soros, the philanthropist and Democratic campaign contributor who is a frequent target of bogus claims. It is a publicly owned company, with many shareholders including Amazon, which as of April 6 had an 18% stake.
In a February filing with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, Soros Fund Management reported it had purchased in late 2021 some 200 million shares of Rivian stock, or about 2% of the company.
The value of the shares was $2 billion at the end of December, the period covered by the filing, but it had dropped to about $1 billion by the time of the February filing.
Gordon said the state’s negotiations with Rivian have not included Soros or any representative of his.
Perdue, who lost his Senate re-election bid to Democrat Jon Ossoff in 2021, is challenging Kemp in Georgia’s primaries on May 24. If neither candidate gets more than 50% of the primary vote, there will be a runoff on June 21.
The Republican nominee is expected to face Abrams, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary, in the Nov. 8 general election. Kemp won his first term as governor in 2018 by defeating Abrams, a former George state lawmaker, by about 50% to 49%.
Perdue claimed in an ad attacking Kemp that a "secret backroom deal" gave "away hundreds of millions of tax dollars to a Soros-owned company."
Kemp has publicly proposed state spending of $125 million for land and training costs associated with a proposed $5 billion electric-vehicle factory planned by Rivian Automotive.
It’s expected that in total, hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local government incentives will be offered to Rivian. But that has not happened and negotiations are continuing.
Soros, a frequent target of conservatives, does not own Rivian. His investment fund owns about 20 million shares of the company, or about 2%.
Perdue’s statement contains an element of truth in that negotiations are not happening in public. But he ignores critical facts about Soros’ involvement that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.
RELATED: David Perdue’s PolitiFact file
RELATED: Brian Kemp’s PolitiFact file
RELATED: Stacey Abrams’ PolitiFact file
RELATED: Fact-checks about Georgia
YouTube, David Perdue "Soros" ad, March 29, 2022
Twitter, David Perdue campaign tweet, March 29, 2022
Email, David Perdue campaign spokesperson Jenni Sweat, April 5, 2022
Email, Marie Gordon, director of communications, global commerce, Georgia Department of Economic Development, April 7, 2022
Email, Brian Kemp campaign spokesperson Tate Mitchell, April 5, 2022
New York Times, "How an Electric Truck Factory Became a Lightning Rod in Georgia," March 14, 2022
Georgia Department of Economic Development, "Governor Kemp Welcomes Rivian for Single-Largest Economic Development Project in State History," Dec. 16, 2021
Yahoo Finance, "Rivian Automotive," accessed April 6, 2022
Associated Press, "Kemp, Perdue spar over planned Georgia electric car plant," March 1, 2022
BNN Bloomberg, "Rivian’s Soros Connection Becomes Issue in Georgia Governor Race," Feb. 28, 2022
Bloomberg, "Georgia Governor Kemp’s Campaign Defends Rivian Plant Deal," March 1, 2022
Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, "AFY 2022 and FY 2023 Governor's Budget Report," accessed April 5, 2022
Axios Atlanta, "Former Sen. Perdue takes on Rivian plant," March 2, 2022
Barron’s, "George Soros Buys a Big Rivian Stake," Feb. 14, 2022
Reuters, "Billionaire Soros buys stake in EV startup Rivian," Feb. 14, 2022
Market Watch, "Billionaire George Soros reveals stake in Rivian, sells some tech shares," Feb. 14, 2022
11Alive.com, "Perdue blasts Kemp, Rivian deal," March 1, 2022
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Georgia to spend $125M for land, training costs for Rivian plant," Jan. 13, 2022
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