Atlanta mayoral candidate Norwood releases 9 years of tax returns


Atlanta mayoral candidate Mary Norwood released nine years of her and her husband’s federal tax returns on Monday, arguing that an ongoing federal corruption investigation at Atlanta City Hall required greater transparency.

Norwood is in the Dec. 5 runoff against Keisha Lance Bottoms, who said she was open to releasing her returns as well, but first wanted to talk to her accountant.

Norwood’s returns show that she and her husband Felton, a retired physician, made a low of $106,565 in 2010 to a high of $196,551 in 2015. The majority of the couple’s income derives from Felton Norwood’s IRA distributions and dividends from investments.

Norwood’s city council position pays her roughly $50,000 per year. The couple in some years contributed more than 10 percent of their income to charity. In 2013, they donated $18,964 to charitable organizations, while earning $128,023.

Norwood’s campaign initially planned to release only the The Internal Revenue Service’s Form 1040, which provides a summary of income and taxes paid. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution requested the full returns, and Norwood provided hundreds of pages of additional information supplied to the federal government.

The returns do not appear to include the names of organizations to which she donated, with one exception: In 2012, the couple donated decorative furniture appraised at $17,950 to the Hay House, a historic home in Macon owned by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.

Norwood promised to provide itemized lists of her donations soon.

Franklin among first to release returns

Candidates often release their tax returns in state and federal elections, although some high-profile candidates have kept them private in recent years. Donald Trump in 2016 became the first presidential candidate in two generations to not disclose his tax returns.

The practice is less common among mayoral candidates in major metropolitan cities, but exceptions include Rahm Emanuel in Chicago and Bill de Blasio in New York.

“It’s case-by-case, candidate-by-candidate,” said Michael Leo Owens, a political science professor at Emory University. “I suspect if we didn’t have a bribery investigation, this would not be as important or happening at all.

“Is it opportunistic? Sure. Campaigns are meant to be opportunistic. It fits with her message of transparency.”

The first Atlanta mayor to in recent memory to release her returns was Shirley Franklin, who did so in 2001, amid federal bribery investigation at City Hall — one that resulted in former Mayor Bill Campbell receiving a prison sentence for federal tax evasion. Franklin also vowed to not accept any outside income during her tenure and to place her business interests in a blind trust.

“I did it to demonstrate my transparency and to answer any questions about my independence,” Franklin said. “I wanted to show that I would work 100 percent of the city of Atlanta. Transparency is about more than what you say — it’s about how you demonstrate it.”

Some returns released in 2009

In the 2009 general election, mayoral candidate Lisa Borders released her previous year tax return. She challenged current Mayor Kasim Reed and Norwood to do the same.

“Anytime you’re going to serve in public office, a certain amount of transparency is in order,” Borders said.

Reed, an attorney, released a decades worth of tax returns in that election.

Norwood, who lost the 2009 contest to Reed by about 700 votes, did not release her taxes in the 2009 race. She said the pay-to-play bribery allegations at Atlanta City Hall, which has netted three guilty pleas to federal prosecutors this year, played a major role in her decision on Monday.

“I firmly believe that how you handle your own personal and business finances is a great indication as to how you will handle the taxpayers’ money,” Norwood said during a Monday press conference. “My husband I live within our means. We pay our bills. We have had no tax or property liens of any kind.”

That comment referenced Bottom’s past tax liens and unpaid water bills — problems that Bottoms has said arose from medical expenses when she and husband were starting a family.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

THURSDAY’S WEATHER-TRAFFIC: Rain to clear after another wet morning commute
THURSDAY’S WEATHER-TRAFFIC: Rain to clear after another wet morning commute

Thursday: High: 44 Thursday night: Low: 31 Friday: High: 31 The rain will come to an end on Thursday, but metro Atlanta will have to get through the morning commute first. A flash flood watch remains in effect for most of north and central Georgia through 7 a.m. Another quarter-inch to a half-inch of rain is possible Thursday morning...
Attorney says man involved in deadly Gwinnett bar shooting acted to protect others
Attorney says man involved in deadly Gwinnett bar shooting acted to protect others

A man turned himself in Wednesday evening to police after being on the run since a weekend shooting left two people dead outside a Gwinnett County bar, Channel 2 Action News reported. His attorney, Jackie Patterson, told Channel 2 that 23-year-old Samuel Songsy admits to firing shots that night. However, Patterson said his client stopped a mass shooting...
Riverdale teen faces murder charges after deadly crash, police chase in Arkansas
Riverdale teen faces murder charges after deadly crash, police chase in Arkansas

A 19-year-old from Clayton County faces murder charges after a police chase in a stolen car ended in a crash that killed two people in Arkansas, KLRT-TV, a Fox-affiliated news station in Little Rock, reported. Gystin Michael Parker, of Riverdale, faces two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of George and Kathaline Luster...
Atlanta bans pet stores from selling cats and dogs
Atlanta bans pet stores from selling cats and dogs

   Under a new bill signed into law Tuesday, pet stores in Atlanta cannot sell cats or dogs to customers. The ordinance is a preventative measure, as officials aren’t aware of any stores that were selling dogs or cats in the city — a practice that has fallen out of fashion as more pet owners chose to adopt from shelters instead...
Fulton prosecutor: Uber Eats driver intentionally killed customer 
Fulton prosecutor: Uber Eats driver intentionally killed customer 

Robert Bivines didn’t intend to shoot and kill Ryan Thornton, but he feared for his life.  It’s the argument the former Uber Eats driver has maintained since the fatal shooting in February.  A stoic Bivines sat next to his attorney, Jackie Patterson, during opening statements Wednesday as he listened to Fulton County Senior Assistant...
More Stories