Beltline president replaced after questions about expenses

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ATLANTA —

A governing board replaced the president of Atlanta’s Beltline project on Friday morning.

Channel 2’s John Bachman reported the board of directors has named Lisa Gordon the interim Beltline president. Gordon is currently the Beltline’s chief operating officer.

Gordon will replace CEO Brian Leary, who publicly apologized on Thursday as auditors looked into questionable spending of taxpayer funds.

Officials told Bachman that Leary would remain on the job through the end of August to help with the transition.

Channel 2 Action News obtained pictures of Beltline expense receipts which show expensive dinners, including alcohol, and a wedding gift.  They were all submitted for reimbursement by taxpayer money. 

The Atlanta Beltline paid back $750 to taxpayers and created a specific policy to keep it from happening again. Invest Atlanta, which oversees Atlanta Beltline, has ordered a complete audit.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed sits on the Atlanta Beltline board of directors and the board of Invest Atlanta.

Beltline Chairman John Somerhalder issued a statement Friday morning, thanking Leary for his service on the project, but noting that the decision to replace him was made in the best interest of the Beltline.

“The Atlanta BeltLine remains the single most compelling vision for the future of Atlanta. It came to fruition through deep, broad and passionate grassroots support that brought communities across this city together like never before. That foundation of public support is still the bedrock of the Atlanta BeltLine and remains the single most important element in moving the project forward. The progress we have made with the help of the community and our strong and numerous partners will continue as we realize this powerful vision for the future of our city," Somerhalder said in the statement.

Somerhalder also noted the policy changes regarding the expenditure of taxpayer funds.