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special reports

Did partisan $$$ swing non-partisan mayor’s race?

Did partisan $$$ swing non-partisan mayor's race?

Countless Atlantans volunteered for Kasim Reed last fall, helping a second-place candidate win the top job in city government. But, in a tight nonpartisan race, partisan campaigning may have been the critical ingredient that vaulted him past Mary Norwood. The Georgia Democratic Party spent at least $165,000 to attack her and contribute to an unprecedented 8 percent jump […]

Election officials probing vote fraud in 4 counties

Election officials probing vote fraud in 4 counties

A dozen people, including a former sheriff, mishandled scores of absentee ballots cast in elections in four Georgia counties in 2008, state elections officials say. Investigators found ballots were requested or marked without voters’ knowledge, voters were assisted who did not need help, and some of the “helpers” covered their tracks by failing to sign paperwork to acknowledge their involvement. In Twiggs County, FBI analysis found fingerprints of former Sheriff Doyle Stone and his son, Greg Stone, on envelopes containing absentee ballots.

New bike paths spur ethics charge against DeKalb board member

A top DeKalb economic development official has a conflict of interest because he also heads a group that’s received $8 million in county payments, the DeKalb ethics board was told Wednesday night. McBrayer “is very clearly receiving a benefit from the PATH Foundation,” which has collected $8 million from DeKalb since 2004, said Brian Daughdrill, lawyer for a neighborhood group that lodged a complaint. But McBrayer’s lawyer, Elizabeth Branch, said those restrictions apply only to for-profit businesses, not non-profits: “Being a non-profit makes all the difference in the world.”

Whistleblower denies lying to State Ethics Commission

A whistleblower who accused state ethics lawyers of misconduct was herself fired over allegations of fraud and dishonesty. Jennifer L. Ward, budget and HR administrator for the State Ethics Commission, was dismissed in November for allegedly failing to drop an ex-employee from the payroll and stating that she fabricated salary figures to help her old boss get a pay raise. Ward denies wrongdoing and claims her new boss canned her for complaining to others about his private law practice.

Audit: ATL code compliance looked good — after cooking the books

Audit: ATL code compliance looked good -- after cooking the books

Atlanta’s Office of Code Compliance manipulated inspection data to inflate the agency’s caseload and vastly overstate its performance, city auditors say. Its files were such a mess that workers often couldn’t even find paperwork for a particular case. Auditors said the office staff was told to record inspection dates even if no inspection had occurred. For one month, the faulty data made it appear the average inspection was conducted 14 days after the complaint came in; auditors calculated it really took nearly six months.

Grand jury indicts 2 top DeKalb school officials

Grand jury indicts 2 top DeKalb school officials

A DeKalb County grand jury today indicted former school Superintendent Crawford Lewis and Pat Reid, the district’s former chief operating officer, as well as her ex-husband, architect Tony Pope, and her secretary. The indictment alleges $80 million in fraudulently awarded construction contracts, tens of thousands of dollars in sports and theater tickets as bribes, and a taxpayer-funded stay in the Bahamas. The grand jury also charged, without elaboration, that Reid tried to blackmail Lewis.

APD ignored key Kathryn Johnston witness for 9 days

APD ignored key Kathryn Johnston witness for 9 days

Atlanta police inexplicably waited nine days to question a key witness to officers’ misconduct in the 2006 killing of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston, according to a new investigative report. Instead, they put on a full-court press to track down an informant who corrupt officers wanted to use as their alibi. Cris Beamud, director of a city oversight panel created after the Johnston shooting, says police should find out why it took so long.

Investigation: 2 more APD cops should be fired

The report says Atlanta should fire two more cops over truthiness issues.

Who’s got the phattest crib in the GA Legislature?

Who's got the phattest crib in the GA Legislature?

Well, it’s probably a Republican, since they’re the ones whose campaigns are rolling in dough these days. But the phattest? That’s in the eye of the beholder, and Atlanta Unfiltered works only in cold, hard facts. We can tell you who’s spent what from campaign money for a crib during the 2010 legislative session, though. The biggest spender: state Sen. Don Balfour.

Was ID theft to blame for DeKalb commissioner’s fraud charges?

Was ID theft to blame for DeKalb commissioner's fraud charges?

DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton says identity theft might be the cause of her recent troubles over bad checks in Gwinnett County. But signatures on the four bounced checks look quite similar to Sutton’s signature on campaign disclosure documents on file at the Georgia secretary of state’s office. See for yourself …

Debt-ridden DK official says she spent $69K out of pocket on campaign

Debt-ridden DK official says she spent $69K out of pocket on campaign

Sharon Barnes Sutton’s paycheck was garnisheed in 2008 after she missed payments on her Lexus. Gwinnett County issued four arrest warrants for her over $1,000 in bounced checks in 2007. And she lost her $162,000 Stone Mountain home a few months ago when she couldn’t keep up with the mortgage. Still, Sutton reported spending $69,000 of her own money to run for the DeKalb County Commission, campaign records show. All this on a $43,000 schoolteacher’s salary.

Pitts may settle 8-year ethics dispute over campaign loans

Pitts may settle 8-year ethics dispute over campaign loans

On the eve of the 2001 Atlanta mayoral election, candidate Robb Pitts’ campaign bounced a $45,000 check. Several campaign officials made loans to cover the check in amounts far exceeding limits on political contributions. Pitts, now a Fulton County commissioner, may be about to settle ethics charges stemming from the loans. But will he have to pay back the money?