Fulton County commissioners on Wednesday voted four to three to extend the contract with Happy Faces, a staffing firm said to have ties to Stacey Abrams.

Commissioners voted this way, despite several people turning out to protest Happy Faces and any possible contract extension. To express their displeasure with Happy Faces, those audience members held up signs and buttons with a crossed-out smiley face.

A contractor that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger handpicked to monitor election counting in Fulton County in the 2020 election revealed last year that he overheard one Happy Faces employee discuss plans to “f**k s**t up.”

Some commissioners said Wednesday that Happy Faces is not worthy of performing work for Fulton County. Other commissioners asked what contingency plans county officials had to replace Happy Faces.

County Commissioner Marvin Arrington, Jr., meanwhile, said no fraud took place in the 2020 election. He said anyone who believes that fraud did take place that year is in on what he said was “the big lie.”

“There is nothing wrong with the integrity of the election process in Fulton County or in the state of Georgia or in the United States of America,” Arrington said.

“We have systems in place. The problem is democracy. Democracy is a tool to make sure you get the government you deserve.”

Arrington also said that Fulton is Georgia’s largest county “and will have more problems and more complaints.”

Happy Faces came under scrutiny last year for what some people say are ties to Abrams.

Georgia court documents indicated that NowAccount — a microfinance company co-founded by Abrams and one in which she may still hold a financial stake — had at one point in the past had a financial relationship with Happy Faces.

Happy Faces CEO Michael Hairston last year said the organization never had any financial arrangement with NowAccount, that the group had considered an arrangement with the financial services firm but had ultimately passed.

Interactions between Happy Faces staffers and Fulton workers were apparently so tense in 2020 that at one point Fulton staff apparently turned down help from Happy Faces — even when work was piling up.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star and The Georgia Star News. Follow Chris on Facebook, Twitter, Parler, and GETTR. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Woman on a Job Interview” by Amtec Photos. CC BY-SA 2.0.