Mayoral hopeful Mitchell reaches $8,000 agreement on ethics complaints

Atlanta mayoral candidate and Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell will pay fines of more than $8,000 to the state ethics commission following a year-long investigation into alleged ethics violations.

Mitchell, who entered the race to succeed Mayor Kasim Reed last April, has been accused of eight ethics infractions over a five-year period in his runs for council president and mayor. They include using campaign cash to buy Atlanta Falcons tickets and failure to register his PAC, AtlantaNEXT.

But the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission — otherwise known as the ethics commission — dismissed or found insufficient evidence in half of the violations, according to an agreement setlling the charges.

Mitchell’s fines, which total $8,375, focus mostly on his failure to disclose between $46,000 and $93,000 in campaign expenditures, campaign debt around $8,900 owed to a campaign consultant and to file personal financial disclosure statements on time, according to the agreement.

He also failed to register his mayoral committee before accepting campaign funds, the agreement said.

The commission accepted Mitchell’s defense that the $408 for Falcons tickets was reimbursement to a law firm for lobbying expenses. The commission declared the expense allowable under “ordinary and necessary” expenses under Georgia code.

The commission said there was insufficient evidence that Mitchell’s PAC violated registration rules.

In a statement, Mitchell blamed the problems on clerical errors and promised better oversight of administrative duties.

“We have taken immediate steps in upgrading our campaign finance technology and internal administrative procedures to ensure that all reports are filed properly,” he said.