ATLANTA - Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has spent nearly $12,000 of taxpayer money on limousines in just five months, according to an investigation by Channel 2 Action News and our investigative partners at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and AJC.com.
An Atlanta City Hall spokesperson told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Aaron Diamant that you can’t put a price tag on the mayor’s safety, calling Bottoms’ use of a luxury car service “an expedient solution that had already been assessed for safety.”
Through an open records request into Bottoms’ city-issued credit card statements, our investigation found 27 separate charges to Carey Limousine during out of town trips. The average bill was $431.
There was a $3,900 charge in April. The city said the limo company billed the city late for services during the Super Bowl in Minneapolis and the company may have mistakenly kept the car on standby status during a day-long event.
“The public will have to be the judge as to whether they think that’s excessive or not,” said City Council President Felicia Moore.
Bottoms’ monthly limo spending is outpacing former Mayor Kasim Reed.
Reed’s bills show more than $28,000 spent with Carey Limousine, but that was over his final three years in office. Reed’s average charge was about $200.
“If Mayor Bottoms wants her administration’s legacy to be a ‘we’re too greedy to care,’ then they’re off to a great start,” said former federal prosecutor Jeff Brickman.
In a written statement, a city spokesperson said, “Mayor Bottoms relied heavily upon the procedures previously used, including the use of a secure and vetted car service. As the use of the service was being examined by the Bottoms’ administration, a significant increase in the trajectory of the costs over the course of those first few months was noted. She immediately began to explore alternative methods of ground conveyance.”
Our review of credit card statements for members of Bottoms’ executive protection unit showed they booked about a dozen far cheaper out-of-town Uber and Lyft trips in April and May.
That’s a trend Brickman hopes will continue.
“If you really want to be transparent, and you really want to separate and distinguish yourself from the previous administration, show us, you know, ways that you are really meaning what you’re saying. Do it. Don’t just say it,” Brickman said.
The city said the best use of ground transportation will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
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