As the AJC has previously reported, Bottoms is not named on a list of people interviewed by the law firm that it included in its investigation report. And a mayoral spokesman told reporters last week that there was no need for the attorneys to interview Bottoms and so they didn’t.
That story shifted Wednesday.
“Mayor Bottoms did not have a formal interview, but a conversation” with attorneys investigating the Hall matter, Hickson said. The city attorney went on to explain that the mayor did not receive legal warnings that accompanied employees who were formally interviewed for the investigation.
Hickson said it was O’Brien’s decision to not “formally” interview Bottoms.
Hickson also said Reed and other members of his administration who may have had information about Hall were not interviewed because “of their status with regard to the DOJ investigation.”
Reed’s Human Resources chief Yvonne Yancy, who initiated Hall’s paperwork in late December 2017 to move him from city councilman to the advisor position at more than double his council salary, refused to be interviewed for the investigation. The report implies that she may be largely responsible for placing him in that job.
But Yancy provided the AJC with a statement last week saying that she initiated the paperwork at the direction of both Mayors Reed and Bottoms. She also said the paperwork was finalized by people within’ the Bottoms administration.
Hickson on Wednesday disputed that assertion.
“Because it was a change of compensation, it was within the authority of the HR director to authorize it,” Hickson told council members. “There was no mayoral approval.”
Yancy pushed back against that claim.
“Any assertions that Ms. Yancy is responsible for the decision to hire Kwanza Hall are false and a purposeful attempt to conceal the true facts around this matter,” said a statement issued to the AJC by a public relations firm representing Yancy.
There was also confusion over how much salary Hall received during his six weeks on Bottoms’ payroll.
Hickson told council members that he received a check on Jan. 5, 2018 for a two-week period in December when he was still on city council. But as the AJC has previously reported, city payroll records show the amount of Hall’s check was $5,272 — a rate double that of his council pay, and generally in line with an annual salary of $137,000.
City payroll records show Hall also received checks on Jan 19 for $4,386 and on Feb. 2 for $5,272. The department listed as his employer for all three of those checks is “EXE - Chief of Staff,” meaning the mayor’s office. Hall’s bimonthly paychecks as a councilman were $2,319.
Council President Felicia Moore said she’s not satisfied with the results of the investigation or the answers she received on Wednesday.
“I can’t say I’m satisfied, but we’re probably as far as we’re going to get,” Moore said. “It is what it is.”