Atlanta mayor fined $37,000 for campaign finance violations during 2017 mayor’s race

Atlanta mayor fined $37,000 for campaign finance violations during 2017 mayor’s race
Keisha Lance Bottoms sworn in as Atlanta mayor

ATLANTA — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms agreed during a state ethics commission meeting Thursday to pay a fine of $37,000 for irregularities in her campaign finances during the 2017 mayor’s race.

The settlement comes after a long investigation into both candidate’s campaign contributions during the race nearly four years ago.

[RELATED: State Ethics Commission says Atlanta mayor not cooperating with election investigation]

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In the agreement, Bottoms’ campaign admits to accepting $6,900 in campaign donations that exceeded state limits on the amount individuals can contribute. The campaign also acknowledges receiving another $110,797 in contributions that violated other state statutes.

Many of violations were due to improper paperwork. But after the election, Bottoms also raised money to retire campaign debt. The amount raised exceeded the debt, and the campaign kept the balance, which is a violation.

In August 2020, the Georgia Ethics Commission fined the losing candidate, Mary Norwood around $27,000.

At that time, the commission said Bottoms, who was under investigation for hundreds of thousands of dollars in suspected illegal campaign contributions, was not cooperating.

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Bottoms campaign reported spending roughly $2.6 million on the campaign, including the cost of a runoff with Norwood. After the election, the Ethics Commission launched reviews of how money was spent with Bottoms finances as one of the focal points.

The commission notified Bottoms attorneys in December 2019 that they found evidence of nearly $400,000 of financial irregularities within the campaign.

The commission contended that $300,000 of that money was improperly collected for the general election campaign after the election period had closed. Those determinations were made based on campaign finance disclosure reports.

Banks records from both candidates were subpoenaed during the investigation.

While Norwood turned over her campaign’s bank records almost immediately after receiving a subpoena from the commission, Bottoms refused to do so for nearly a year.

She turned over her records late last year and a settlement was approved on Thursday.

The commission says its initial numbers of what they thought were irregularities were significantly scaled back after the commission examined each campaign’s bank records.

Bottoms also agreed to help the ethics commission train other people running for municipal office hot to comply with the campaign finance laws.

State ethics commission agrees to delay hearing into campaign finance irregularities against Atlanta mayor