ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Atlanta city council president Felicia Moore was stunned to hear about the latest financial investigation at city hall.
“It's just an insane amount of money for the city of Atlanta,” says Moore.
The man at the center of this controversy is Jim Beard. For more than 8 years he was Mayor Kasim Reed's chief financial officer.
Now, the city ethics officer, Jabu Sengova, has filed a complaint against Beard questioning nearly $150,000 in potential improper credit card expenses.
The ethics complaint requests documentation to explain why Beard paid for first class style plane tickets like a $9519 flight to Beijing, and $14,732 business Class flight and hotel to Amsterdam for two city employees.
And Ms. Sengova wanted documentation for lavish hotel expenses, like $10,277 for the Shangri-La in Paris.
The complaint also asks for an explanation for expensive meals like $1245 at a 3 Star Michelin restaurant in Barcelona.
“The amount of money was staggering,” says Moore.
Last year Beard repaid taxpayers for the Paris hotel after local news organizations requested the records through the Open records act.
For months the FOX 5 I-Team has been reporting on expensive trips including luxury hotels and high-dollar meals taken by Mayor Kasim Reed and his staff. Mayor Reed has reimbursed the city for some of his purchase card expenses. We've also focused on the frequent and often poorly documented worldwide luxury travel of his chief of staff Candace Byrd.
During an ongoing FBI and IRS investigation, a federal grand jury investigating corruption at city hall also subpoenaed records for Purchase card expenses by Mayor Kasim Reed, his brother Tracy, and all members of Mayor Reed's office.
“The worst part of this is the continuing erosion of public trust” says the city council president.
But, changes are already underway. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom's Open Checkbook is up and running. It is an online website that allows the public to examine city spending. Also, the city council approved Mayor Bottom's new transparency officer, who will make sure the city complies with public open records requests.
All steps in a new direction says the new city council president.
“We need to do better about policing ourselves,” says Moore.
Mayor Bottoms spokesperson, Michael Smith, points out the Mayor has also established open records training for staff and a new e-procurement system. Smith says the Mayor is working daily to reestablish public trust in government.
We tried to reach Jim Beard by phone and email, but were not successful.