Atlanta Councilman C.T. Martin (right) announced Tuesday that his campaign will return a controversial donation from a ballot committee with ties to Mayor Kasim Reed (center). Reed directed the committee to contribute to seven council members, six of whom have now said they will return the money or donate it to charity. Only councilwoman Cleta Winslow (left) has not answered the AJC’s questions about what her campaign will do with the money.

C.T. Martin giving controversial ballot committee money to charity

Atlanta city councilman C.T. Martin, who is trying to become the next council president, announced Tuesday that he will donate to charity a $2,600 contribution his campaign received from a controversial ballot committee with ties to Mayor Kasim Reed.

Citizens for Better Transportation 2016 is a ballot committee formed to campaign on behalf of a sales tax increase passed last year that will pay for transportation improvements in the city. The committee raised more than $1.2 million from major Atlanta businesses, but only spent half of those funds.

In June, Reed directed maximum contributions of $2,600 from the left-over transportation committee funds to seven council members who have been among his most loyal supporters. 

The state ethics commission has said donations from the committee to council candidates are questionable, as state law clearly dictates that excess funds after an election should be returned to the donors proportionally, or given to a non-profit.

Martin,the long-standing District 10 representative, made his announcement after five of his colleagues on city council had already said they would either return the money or give it to a non-profit organization in their districts. The campaign contribution to Martin was not reported on his July or October disclosure filings.

“Although the contributions disbursed by the transportation fund have not been deemed illegal at this time, there were questions surrounding its validity,” Martin said in a statement. “Because of those questions, I decided it was best to donate the contribution to an organization that could help others.”

Council members Michael Julian Bond, Carla Smith and Ivory Lee Young have said they are returning contributions to the transportation committee; Natalyn Archibong, Joyce Sheperd and now Martin are donating their contributions to charity.

Only councilwoman Cleta Winslow has not responded to the AJC’s questions about the transportation committee’s contribution to her campaign.

Martin said his donation will to go the non-profit Hosea Feed the Hungry, which provides meals to the homeless in the Atlanta-area.

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