Former city official hit with ethics investigation over questionable spending

The city's ethics board is demanding answers for questionable spending that includes air travel and hotel accommodations that cost more than $17,000.

ATLANTA — A former Atlanta city employee has been accused of spending close to $150,000 in taxpayer money for items including first-class flights, high-end hotels and $200 trips to Walmart.

Channel 2 Action News has investigated these expenses before, but over the holidays Channel 2's Dave Huddleston got a tip that the city's ethics officer had filed a complaint against Atlanta's former Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard.

Beard was CFO under former Mayor Kasim Reed.

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Huddleston filed an Open Records Request and received a copy of the five-page complaint.

The city's ethics board is demanding Beard answer for questionable spending. Among the items in question are:

  • Beard's use of his city issued credit card for $17,616.86 for air travel to Barcelona, Spain and premium hotel accommodations and lavish restaurant expenses.
  • A charge of $14,732.67 for premier air travel to Amsterdam, while staying at this exclusive hotel.
  • A charge of 10,277.67 at the Shangri-La hotel in Paris.
  • A $7,500 donation to the United Negro College Fund.

Huddleston took the report to Sara Henderson, executive director of Common Cause Georgia.

"I think it's outrageous. I think taxpayers should be completely incensed about this. I mean the price of this ethics complaint is about the price of a house in some places in Atlanta," Henderson said. "If you live in Atlanta and you're an Atlanta taxpayer, you need to call your council member and demand that these types of things are investigated.”

Huddleston emailed Beard three times to see if he could explain the expenses. He's still working to get a response.

Beard has until Jan. 7th to respond to the city's ethics officer.

The ethics complaint also said Beard bought airline tickets for a number of former and current city employees.

Huddleston has filed another open records request to see if more complaints have been filed.