The lawsuit played an important role in Kemp’s campaign for governor when Republican Lt. gov. Casey Cagle and Democrat Stacey Abrams both seized it to voice concerns about his affordability and his business background.
A separate lawsuit against Kemp, filed by other investors, was settled for around $200,000 last year, but Phillips kept pushing his case – and wasn’t shy about criticizing Kemp in the turmoil of the campaign.
“I expected him to keep his word and he didn’t.” said Phillips in a previous interview. “That speaks volumes about Brian.”
Financial records show that Kemp invested $750,000 in the company a decade ago guaranteed $10 million in loans to AgStrong – about twice the net worth he has stated in government disclosures.
Documents show two loans, $600,000 total, were due at the end of December. Others begin to mature this year.
The Democratic Party of Georgia recently launched digital ads Questioning the investments, the settlement said the settlement does not change the fact that Kemp “owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid loans that he has never made any payment on.”
“We cannot trust a politician who owes himself and his business interests more than Georgians,” said Maggie Chambers, the party’s spokeswoman.
Kemp declined to answer questions after a budget speech on Wednesday. His aides have said that AgStrong’s property and equipment is repaying most of those loans, and that Kemp wasn’t the only investor who has promised to pay if the company is unable to.
And Kemp said in a previous interview that he wanted to invest “early in a company that creates jobs and economic opportunity” and that he was confident the company would recover and repay the loans.
The new facility was offered to local Kentucky farmers as a lucrative way to diversify their crops and use some of their land to grow crops not typically grown in the steamier southern climate.
However, it struggled with it with technical problems and bad financial decisions shook the small town in Kentucky where it is. A local businessman told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that people “feel cheated” from its owners. At one point, the company had defaulted more than $2 million on payments to area farmers.
As the elections neared, Kemp admitted to knowing little about AgStrong’s activities. In a recent cancellationKemp used variations of “I don’t know,” “I don’t remember,” or “I don’t remember” at least 91 times when asked about the company’s finances and operations.
He distanced himself from the company as its financial problems mounted. He resigned from his board in August 2017 and steadily sold his share in the company. He reported owning about a quarter stake in 2010; His aides say he now owns about 8 percent.
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