Mayor Bottoms vetoes resolution requesting inquiry into campaign hires

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has vetoed a city council resolution requesting an investigation into how some of her campaign staffers were put on city payroll.

In a letter delivered to city council members Tuesday night, Bottoms argued that the council’s resolution violated the city charter because it allowed the city auditor and ethics officer to hire an outside law firm to assist with the investigation.

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But the veto appears to be mostly symbolic.

The city’s ethics officer and auditor can launch investigations independently of the mayor and council.

And in a letter on Monday, City Auditor Amanda Noble said that she and the ethics office planned to move forward without outside legal help.

“To address the Mayor’s concern, we will not seek outside legal advice or draw conclusions regarding the legality of the transactions,” Noble wrote. “If so desired, the City Council can follow its established process to hire outside counsel to review our findings.”

The mayor’s spokesman, Michael Smith, said Bottoms was unaware of Noble’s letter.

“At this hour, it is evident the Council has no desire to rectify the violations,” Bottoms wrote late Tuesday.

The council resolution requesting the investigation came in response to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article published on March 17. The article found that six Bottoms campaign staff members were issued payments for a pay period in December 2017, before the city had formally offered them jobs.That article reported that political supporters of the mayor were given job titles based on desired salaries, not their job qualifications or responsibilities. And it found that Bottoms' former campaign manager Marva Lewis was briefly made an Airport Deputy General Manager and received payments out of airport funds, in possible violation of FAA regulations.

Bottoms sent a letter to the council on Friday declaring the resolution was invalid and that any findings from the investigation would be moot because it was initiated unlawfully.