A consulting firm headed by a woman accused of running a “slush fund” with the nonprofit Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia received $35,000 from a controversial ballot committee chaired by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday, a committee called Citizens For Better Transportation 2016 raised more than $1.2 million from some of the city’s most influential businesses to campaign on behalf of a sales tax increase for road improvements in Atlanta last year.
But the committee only spent half of the money, and began using the left over contributions this summer — sending maximum campaign donations of $2,600 to seven incumbent council members who are up for reelection, and who have been among Reed’s biggest supporters.
State law clearly says excess funds from a ballot committee should be either returned pro rata to the donors, or given to a charity. Robert Highsmith, the committee’s attorney, said the donations were legal, but an official with the state ethics commission said they might not be.
A $35,000 check from the transportation committee for consulting services went to D.P. Bell & Associates in January, which is a firm headed by Desiree Peterkin Bell, a former Philadelphia city representative who ran former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s nonprofit. City controller Alan Butkovitz accused Peterkin Bell of using the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia as her personal “slush fund,” after the Philadelphia Inquirer discovered Peterkin Bell had no detailed explanation for $52,000 worth of charges she made in 2016 on fund-issued credit cards.
The Inquirer reported that the charges included an unidentified $150 Ivanka Trump-branded item, meals at expensive restaurants, along with travel to New York, Washington, and other cities.