Over the past year, as new details emerged about allegations of corruption under former Mayor Kasim Reed, leaders on the the city council and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms have grappled with how to restore the public's confidence in city government. The council's proposal this week is the most stark example of the city's legislative body exerting its authority on the issue.
Moore said the new office would fill a significant void in the city’s ability to stop fraud, corruption and abuse.
She cited a recent an example of the city's law department hiring lawyers at $900 per hour to investigate how a former council member was put on the city's payroll just after leaving office in violation of Atlanta's charter. The attorneys did not determine who was ultimately responsible and some council members criticized their report for being incomplete.
“We would have someone who could have investigated it,” Moore said. “It wouldn’t have cost us $900 an hour.”
The Bottoms administration’s efforts to root out corruption have occasionally been questioned for a perceived lack of independence. Emails from City Attorney Nina Hickson showed her asking one of the $900-per-hour lawyers how to “finesse” an explanation to the city council about the why the city selected the firm.
When Bottoms' created a transparency officer to help the city comply with the Georgia Open Records Act, the position still fell under the mayor's authority.
A spokesperson for Bottoms’ administration on Tuesday said it was too soon to comment on the legislation from the council members.
“We just received the legislation and are in the process of evaluating it,” a spokesperson said in statement.
Under the proposal from the council, the compliance officer would initiate investigations after receiving complaints and provide reports with findings and recommendations. Moore said the reports would be provided to the council and the public.