Days after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution raised questions about the integrity of the Atlanta’s Office of Contract Compliance, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that she was ordering a review of the office.
The contract compliance office oversees the city’s minority contracting programs, which played crucial role in shaping Atlanta’s history.
In a press release, Bottoms said “recent events” necessitated the review — an apparent reference to the guilty plea of the office’s former director, to federal charges of wire fraud and making false statements on tax returns.
Federal prosecutors say Larry Scott was paid $220,000 over five years from an undisclosed side business that helped companies obtain government contracts — including contracts with the city of Atlanta.
“Given recent events, it is evident that a thorough review of this vital program is necessary,” Bottoms is quoted as saying in the press release.
On Sept. 4, Scott became the sixth person to plead guilty in the federal corruption investigation of Atlanta City Hall, and agree to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
The company that paid Scott was Cornerstone U.S. Management Group LLC, a firm that he operated former Mayor Kasim Reed’s brother, Tracy, according to Georgia Secretary of State records.
Late last week, Bottoms’ office told the AJC that Scott’s admission had not called into question the integrity of the minority contracting program. A Bottoms’ spokesman also told the AJC that Scott’s plea would not impact contract awards.
But on Monday, Bottoms said she was requesting that outside, independent experts “in minority and women-owned business standards” conduct a thorough review of the city’s programs, which were instituted by Maynard Jackson, the city’s first African American Mayor.
Atlanta’s programs have been copied by cities all over the country.
“Mayor Maynard Jackson’s legacy of inclusion in City business leveled the playing field for generations of business owners across the nation,” Bottoms said. “This administration will not allow abuse or dishonor to undermine this critical program.”
Scott, 54, abruptly resigned from his $98,000-a-year job as head of the city’s contract compliance office two weeks ago just days after being questioned by the FBI. He pleaded guilty last week, and faces up to 30 months in prison at his Nov. 25 sentencing.
Martin Clarke, a deputy division chief in the law department for aviation, has been named interim director of the contract compliance office.
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