Atlanta councilwoman ordered to pay $5K fine over late campaign reports

Keisha Waites won a runoff for a citywide post on the Atlanta City Council last year. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL/AJC File

Keisha Waites won a runoff for a citywide post on the Atlanta City Council last year. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL/AJC File

The state ethics commission on Monday ordered a new Atlanta City Council member pay $5,000 for failing to file reports detailing her campaign’s expenses and donations last fall.

Councilwoman Keisha Sean Waites, who holds a citywide post, did not file three required reports with deadlines spanning from Sept. 30 to Nov. 24, according to an attorney for the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, more commonly known as the ethics commission.

The attorney, Joe Cusack, said Waites has been since cooperative and “turned over all of the documents within a week of us asking.” The payments include late fees and penalties.

Waites’ matter was one of a number of cases the ethics board took up Monday related to Atlanta politicians.

Waites, a former state representative, won a Nov. 30 runoff against Jacki Labat for the council seat previously held by now-Mayor Andre Dickens. She did not attend the commission meeting but told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday afternoon that the holiday season and a COVID infection made it difficult to get some documentation from campaign vendors.

“The Georgia Ethics Commission’s role and process is integral in helping restore the confidence of voters in our political process and elected officials. While my tardiness was unintentional, I recognize the importance of filing timely,” Waites said in a statement.

The ethics commission also approved a $200 fine against former city council president and mayoral candidate Felicia Moore, the result of a complaint that she filed her personal financial disclosure late and failed to list an out-of-state property that her mother lives in. Cusack said it “wasn’t the worst violation in the world.”

Another former councilmember and mayoral candidate, Antonio Brown, acknowledged that he has not filed the required financial paperwork for his mayoral campaign. He told the board he takes responsibility and is “willing to accept any repercussions that that may have caused.” He is now set to settle the case with the committee.

And a case involving former mayor — and 2021 mayoral candidate — Kasim Reed over an alleged failure to file supplemental reports after previously leaving office was pushed to a future commission meeting.