Kasim Reed facing new ethics complaint accusing him of illegal campaign contributions

ATLANTA — Kasim Reed, who is running for his third term as Atlanta mayor, is facing a new ethics complaint accusing him of accepting $38,000 in illegal campaign contributions.

Reed spokeswoman Anne Torres tells Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Richard Belcher, “Any donations made in error will be returned,” but the former mayor attacked the person who filed the complaint as “widely discredited.”

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This is the second complaint that William Perry has filed with the State Ethics Commission against Reed. Perry, the founder of Georgia Ethics Watchdogs, contends a series of contributions Reed reported for his current campaign violate state law.

“This isn’t questionable. He’s broken the rules. Sure, it’ll take a long time to adjudicate, but the fact of the matter is, he’s breaking the law right now, and it’s important to voters,” Perry told Channel 2.

Perry is a longtime critic of Reed, going back as far as a controversial round of airport concessions contracts the city awarded in 2011-2012. All of those awards were upheld despite numerous challenges.

Perry argues that Reed has not turned over a new leaf as he promised in an interview with Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston earlier this year.

In an interview outside city hall, Perry said, “Kasim Reed has promised he would be much tighter and take a more focused look at corruption and has said the same things won’t happen again. But to me … we’ve got the same old Kasim Reed.”

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This is hardly the first accusation of campaign finance irregularities in Atlanta’s city elections. After the 2017 election, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms agreed to pay a $37,000 fine to settle a complaint by the State Ethics Commission. Runner-up Mary Norwood, who lost to Bottoms in a runoff, agreed to a $27,000 fine.

Reed himself is the subject of a far more serious inquiry involving allegation of misspending from campaign accounts while he was in office from 2011 to 2017. The Atlanta Journal Constitution and Channel 2 reported in June that federal prosecutors are considering criminal wire fraud charges against Reed related to $8,752 in campaign money allegedly spent on furniture, lingerie and resorts.

We reported that prosecutors have questioned attorney Jeremy Berry, who worked for Reed’s campaign and later became Reed’s top legal advisor at the city.

No charges have been filed against Reed.

A statement from Reed’s spokeswoman does not address the federal investigation, but calls William Perry “a widely-discredited campaign ethics expert who … now spends his time filing ethics complaints which assist the political candidates he supports and are generally found to be meritless.”

Perry told Belcher if Reed wants to make crime control his main issue in this year’s election, he should start with his own campaign. “Violent crime is much worse, but I think this is an indicator. If you’re soft on a certain type of crime, how can you be harder on a different type of crime?”

When the State Ethics Commission accepts a complaint, it carries out its own investigation, so it could take months to resolve whether Perry’s complaint is substantiated.

In the meantime, Reed’s spokeswoman says he’ll return any money that was improperly collected.