Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Fined $37K For Campaign Finance Violations In 2017 Mayoral Race

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Written by Ann Brown
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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Fined $37K For Campaign Finance Violations In 2017 Mayoral Race Photo: Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks during the I Will Vote Fundraising Gala, June 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms reached an agreement to pay a $37,000 fine for irregularities in her campaign finances during her 2017 mayor’s race.

Bottoms’ campaign has admitted to accepting $6,900 in campaign donations that exceeded state limits on the amount individuals can contribute. In addition, the campaign also admitted to receiving another $110,797 in contributions that violated other state statutes, WSBTV reported.

While many of the violations occurred due to improper paperwork, Bottoms also raised money to retire campaign debt but the amount exceeded the debt. The campaign kept the balance, which is a violation.

“The mayor is not afraid to admit when she makes a mistake,” her attorney, Carey Miller, told Fox 5 Atlanta. “At the end of the day, the mayor has determined it is in the best interest for her and the citizens of Atlanta for her to be able to turn back and focus on what we can all agree is an extraordinary times.”

In 2017, then-city councilwoman Bottoms “charged taxpayers $40,000 for her end-of-year city council district flyer. But she mailed it outside her district and all across the city. It included  80 pictures of her in action, Fox reported.

This is what led to the 2018 campaign finance complaint when Bottoms ran for Mayor, Fox reported. 

The Bottoms campaign said it spent about $2.6 million on the campaign. Formerly known as the State Ethics Commission, the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission began an investigation to examine how the money was spent. It found evidence of nearly $400,000 of financial irregularities within the campaign.

The commission claimed that $300,000 of that money was improperly collected based on campaign finance disclosure reports.

Bottoms agreed to help the commission train other people running for municipal office on how to comply with campaign finance laws.

Bottoms, 50, is Atlanta’s 60th mayor, elected in 2017. Though her first year was admittedly rough, things have been smoother since then.

“I don’t even recognize the person I was in January 2018,” she told Georgia Trend. “It hasn’t been that long ago, but I joke that serving in government is like dog years. You mature very quickly. There’s a scene with Angela Bassett in ‘Waiting To Exhale’ where she sets her cheating husband’s car on fire. She walks out through the flames with this stroll. That’s how I felt coming out of 2018. I felt like I’d been through the fire, but came out on the other side still standing, still strutting.”

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Her first year was marked by a city council approval for a massive redevelopment project for The Gulch property in downtown Atlanta that includes a $28-million affordable housing trust fund.

Atlanta hosted a successful Super Bowl LIII and she unveiled a massive housing plan during her second year as mayor. She also increased the pay for police officers by 30 percent.

Bottoms grew up in Atlanta, the daughter of the late R&B singer Major Lance, who performed with the Beatles and had several hit singles in the 1960s. She earned her undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism at HBCU Florida A&M University, then completed a law degree at Georgia State.

She served two terms as city council representative from 2010 through 2017.

Bottoms was reportedly being considered for vice president in the Joe Biden administration.