Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms named a new contract compliance officer Wednesday — one day after the former department head was sentenced to two years in prison for wire fraud and filing false tax returns.
Martin Clarke, the Law Department’s former Deputy Division Chief for Aviation, will permanently replace Larry Scott, who plead guilty to federal charges in September and was sentenced in federal court on Tuesday.
Clarke had been serving as interim head of the Office of Contract Compliance since September.
In a statement Wednesday, Bottoms said that Clarke has a long record of victories defending the equal business opportunity provisions in certification hearings, bid protests and court proceedings assuring fair contracting for women, minority contractors and vendors.
The contract compliance office oversees the city’s minority contracting program, which was established in the 1970s by Atlanta’s first African American Mayor, Maynard Jackson.
Jackson sought to use the city’s contracting process to create economic equity for minority and women owned businesses. The programs have been copied throughout the U.S.
Today, Atlanta’s minority contracting program is credited with injecting billions of dollars into minority and female businesses, helping nurture and expand Atlanta’s substantial black middle and upper classes, and for fostering a nationally recognized entrepreneurial spirit in the city’s African American community.
But it’s also blamed for favoring politically connected insiders and opening the door for corruption, especially in airport contracting.
In September, after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution raised questions about the integrity of the Office of Contract Compliance, Bottoms announced that she was ordering a review of the operation.
She said that “recent events” necessitated the review — an apparent reference to Scott’s guilty plea. A spokesman did not immediately respond to questions Wednesday about whether the review was complete.
Scott admitted to earning more than $220,000 from a company called Cornerstone U.S. Management from 2012 to 2017 as its business manager, and failing to disclose that income to the city and in six federal tax returns.
Scott helped create Cornerstone and managed the business’ books for his friend and former fraternity brother Tracy Reed, a brother of former Mayor Kasim Reed.
Prosecutors have declined to answer questions about whether they are investigating Tracey Reed’s involvement with Cornerstone.
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