Atlanta mayoral candidate to return donation from embattled contractor

Atlanta mayoral candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms vowed Monday to return more than $25,000 in campaign contributions from a longtime city contractor whose office was raided by the FBI last month, just days before the federal investigation into City Hall bribery netted a guilty plea from the city’s former purchasing chief.

Lance Bottoms, a city council member since 2010 who Mayor Kasim Reed put in charge of the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority, received 10 contributions amounting to $25,700 from engineering firm PRAD Group, its’ executives and their family members, according to an analysis of campaign finance records by the Georgia News Lab.


“It’s not an embarrassment to my campaign,” Lance Bottoms said Monday of the PRAD donations. “He donated as any number of others. I’ve already asked my campaign to return those donations.”

Three of those contributions were from The PRAD Design Build, JP2/PRAD Group and Roberson & Reynolds — a company associated with the wife of PRAD executive Lohrasb Jeff Jafari.

Other contributions came from Jafari, executive vice president of PRAD, his wife Nancy Jafari, and George Reynolds (president of the PRAD Group), their spouses and children.

Jeff Jafari was also on the host committee for a major Lance Bottoms fund-raising event earlier this year.

The Georgia News Lab could find no other mayoral candidates to which the PRAD Group or any of its affiliates contributed. However, in 2012 the Jafaris and Reynolds gave $16,800 to Mayor Kasim Reed’s campaign.

A message left for Jeff Jafari was not returned on Monday. He has not been charged. Video of the raid, obtained by Channel 2 Action News and the AJC, show about 10 FBI agents entering the Sandy Springs office, where they hauled away boxes of documents.

PRAD has been paid at least $60 million by the city for work from 2009 to 2014, according to an analysis of city invoices obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Since 2015, PRAD and its partners have billed another $39 million, according to purchase orders examined by the AJC.

Additonally, Jeff Jafari is listed as a representative of the newly formed Airport Retail Concessions Group, which bid last week on four of 10 airport concession contracts that collectively are worth millions of dollars.

The PRAD contributions make up only a small portion of the approximate $823,000 raised by Lance Bottoms so far, according to the Georgia News Lab analysis. Of that total, more than $180,000 has come from personal loans Lance Bottoms has made to her campaign, the analysis found.

Lance Bottoms said she thinks all city employees dealing with sensitive procurement issues should be required to file their tax returns along with the financial disclosures required by the city.

“But at the end of the day … I know that you can’t legislate your way out of criminal behavior,” Lance Bottoms said. “When someone is bent on being a criminal, they’ll be a criminal.”

The bribery investigation broke into public view in January, when contractor Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr. admitted to paying more than $1 million in exchange for city contracts from 2010 to 2015. A second contractor, Charles P. Richards Jr., pleaded guilty a few weeks later.

Then in February, chief procurement officer Adam Smith was fired on the same day that agents searched his office and seized his work computer and smart phone. An accompanying subpoena demanded Smith’s emails and documentation he made in contracts during the procurement process.

Smith admitted last week to accepting at least $30,000 in bribes from an unnamed construction contractor in exchange for contract information.

Footage of the Sept. 20 raid at the PRAD Group show federal agents removing boxes of documents from the company’s Sandy Springs offices.

Georgia News Lab student Jenna Eason contributed to this report.


AJC Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi keeps you updated on the latest news about Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Delta Air Lines and the airline industry in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in local business news. Subscribe to

Mayoral candidate Keisha Lance-Bottoms:

Why the Atlanta mayor’s race is worth knowing

The next mayor will impact all of metro Atlanta, and the economy of the Southeast. In our series Election 2017, we examine how a lack of affordable housing means fewer new companies – and new jobs – moving here. 

Visit Politically Georgia at

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Police: UGA student hit 110 mph while using social media during chase
Police: UGA student hit 110 mph while using social media during chase

A University of Georgia student might have gotten away if he didn’t use his cellphone to record his speed on Snapchat while leading a police chase, Athens-Clarke County police say. Hunter Ty Wilkerson reached speeds of 110 mph during the Thursday morning chase before he ran off the road, went airborne and crashed into several parked cars, according...
LaToya Cantrell elected first female mayor of New Orleans
LaToya Cantrell elected first female mayor of New Orleans

LaToya Cantrell made history Saturday night as she was elected New Orleans’ first female mayor, the Times-Picayune reported. Cantrell defeated fellow Democrat and former Judge Desiree Charbonnet to become the 51st mayor in a city that will celebrate the 300th anniversary of its founding 2018. Cantrell, a city councilwoman, got...
Woman dies after being forced to open restaurant safe, shot
Woman dies after being forced to open restaurant safe, shot

A 29-year-old woman died after being shot early Sunday morning in an Atlanta restaurant robbery, police said. The robbery happened about 1:45 a.m. at the Barcelona Wine Bar on Howell Mill Road, Atlanta police spokeswoman Officer Lisa Bender told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Three men rushed in as the restaurant was closing and tied up the employees...
Manhunt ends with arrest of couple accused in police shooting
Manhunt ends with arrest of couple accused in police shooting

Two people wanted in connection to a police shooting were found holed up in a Gainesville home Sunday morning, police said.  Marcos Tovar, 20, and Alondra Rodriguez, 20, were arrested on charges of aggravated assault on a peace officer, Gainesville police spokesman Sgt. Keving Holbrook said.  The couple allegedly opened fire on officers,...
Report: Robert Mugabe agrees to step down as Zimbabwe's president
Report: Robert Mugabe agrees to step down as Zimbabwe's president

Robert Mugabe agreed Sunday to resign as Zimbabwe’s president, a source told Reuters.  Mugabe’s move comes hours after the ruling ZANU-PF party fired him as its leader following 37 years in charge, a source familiar with the negotiations said. ZANU-PF had given Mugabe, 93, less than 24 hours to quit as head of state or face impeachment...
More Stories