City officials' business class trip to South Africa cost $90K, records show

ATLANTA — Atlanta city officials say an unnamed nonprofit will contribute tens of thousands of dollars to pay for business class airfare to South Africa for Mayor Kasim Reed and five other city officials.

Channel 2 investigate reporter Richard Belcher learned the total cost of the trip was nearly $90,000.

Seven top city officials and two bodyguards spent three days in South Africa last spring.

The city code allows for the mayor to travel in business class, but someone had to approve the other five.

Belcher has been working for months to get information from Reed’s office about the “cooperation mission” to Cape Town.


He learned six people flew business class at a cost of just under $64,000. He learned Reed’s ticket cost about $10,200. City attorney Cathy Hampton’s Delta business class ticket cost nearly $13,000.

“It shouldn’t have taken that long and it shouldn’t have taken that much effort" to get the information, city councilmember Felicia Moore said.

Moore said the public should be able to get information about city spending right away.

"We need to get our city expenditures online so that everyone has access to them in a timely manner," Moore said.

The names of those who made the trip weren’t released until 19 days after they returned.

Channel 2 Action News started asking for records before the first flight took off and Reed’s office said there were no records, but a Delta confirmation for H.R. Commissioner Yvonne Yancy was emailed in early April to a city employee named Ameralis Sherman, and a confirmation for Hampton was emailed to Tai White, also a city employee, which means there were city records.

“I think that the state law dictates that we should give this information out, and why you had to go through the steps you went through doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Moore told Belcher.

The mayor’s office said business class is allowed on international travel if approved by a commissioner or department chief, but it’s not clear whether Reed approved all of the travel.

The city is going to get a charitable contribution to cover the extra costs, which are estimated to be $41,000.