ATLANTA - There are questions surrounding a plane ticket to the Super Bowl in Minneapolis that was bought with taxpayer money for Atlanta Mayor Keish Lance Bottoms’ husband.
Channel 2 Action News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution have confirmed taxpayers initially covered the cost of a pricey plane ticket for Derek Bottoms.
“Here we go again,” former federal prosecutor Jeff Brickman told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Aaron Diamant. “It smells bad from the get-go. I mean, it really does.”
After filing an open records request, Diamant discovered the Delta Air Lines charge for Derek Bottoms’ flight was placed on the January 2018 statement for former Chief Operating Officer Dan Gordon’s city-issued credit card.
“What’s up with the P-card and what don’t you get about the rules and regulations concerning how and when a P-card should be used?” Brickman said.
The city’s credit card policy states that city-issued credit cards “shall be used for business purposes only. All personal charges are prohibited.”
Derek Bottoms is an executive with Home Depot, not a city employee.
“It looks inappropriate. Hopefully, there’s some reasonable explanation,” Brickman said.
The charge came just days before the city of Atlanta, which will host Super Bowl 53, sent a large delegation, including Mayor Bottoms, to Minneapolis for Super Bowl 52.
Gordon referred all of our questions to Mayor Bottoms’ office.
The office sent Channel 2 Action News the following statement:
“The transaction of this purchase was inadvertently made less than a month after Mayor Bottoms entered office, during the early days of the transition of the new administration. Immediately upon learning that a personal credit card had not been used, within 10 days of the trip, Mayor Bottoms issued a refund to the City.”
The spokesperson said there’s no way for them to track down who made or authorized the charge.
“I think the biggest concern here is that people are using the credit cards and no senior management has any idea the credit cards are being used. Someone’s asleep at the wheel here,” said local government watchdog Sara Henderson.
Henderson, of Common Cause Georgia, said she’s glad Mayor Bottoms paid taxpayers back for her husband’s flight.
“There’s a much larger issue, I think, and I would think that this is probably not a solitary time that this has happened,” Henderson said.
“You don’t get a mulligan on P-card use. The fact that you say, ‘Oops, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again,’ doesn’t excuse it,” Brickman said.
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