ATLANTA - Our FOX 5 I-Team broke the story of Mayor Kasim Reed's more than $800,000 dollars in employee bonuses and contest winnings he handed out at the end of his term.
Now, a city investigation has found those bonuses violated an article of the state constitution that prohibits gifts to city employees.
Senior I-Team reporter Dale Russell has the report and the findings.
In the quiet drum beat of day to day city hall business, council members slowly headed into executive session Monday to discuss a number of items including last year’s Mayoral Christmas party.
FOX 5 uncovered an Instagram page, posted by a city employee, capturing a Christmas luncheon last December, where bonus money and prize winnings were handed out.
It was late December, and city workers were celebrating with their boss, Mayor Kasim Reed.
City records show 63 employees at the party won money in contests and raffles ranging from $500 to $3000.
Mayor Reed also gave another $740,813 in bonus checks - from $5,000 to $15,000 each - to his cabinet members, department heads, and office assistants.
Council members were given a46-page report along with exhibits that found that the holiday contest award from the party "likely violated the Gratuities Clause" of the Georgia Constitution.
That article of the Constitution prohibits gifts or extra compensation for work already done to government employees.
“We have found some things that happened that were in violation of the law,” said council president Felicia Moore
The report also found that the over $700,000 bonuses we uncovered that were paid to Mayor Kasim Reed's team also were "in violation of the Gratuities clause."
“That's the worst part of this is our other employees need to know we care about them too,” said Moore.
Mayor Reed took full responsibility for the Holiday party and prizes. The Mayor felt his legal team told him he could issue bonuses but the report found those bonuses "likely violated the Charter." Still, investigators found "no evidence" that the bonuses and contests "were done in bad faith, with improper motives"
“If nothing else, it doesn't look good. And, the amount of prizes for the ugly sweater contest is out of line,” said Moore.
Mayor Kasim Reed issued a statement saying he gave bonuses for exceptional work by his staff and the report found no Georgia laws or city codes were intentionally violated.
He calls the report's legal findings debatable and a matter of opinion.
And, he points out the report found City Council bonuses also violated the State's Gratuities clause.
Mayor Reed's Full Statement: