Former city council president: Bribery takes money away from tax - CBS46 News

Former city council president: Bribery takes money away from taxpayers

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(Source: AP) (Source: AP)

Atlanta’s bribery scandal is giving mayoral candidates a powerful new platform.

No longer are they running on fixing potholes, or cutting taxes. Ethics, and transparency about doing business with city hall is where candidates are staking their candidacies now. 

Cathy Woolard is running for mayor herself. She recalls vividly why corruption costs so much. She watched it first-hand when she was the president of the city council. Why does it matter today? Ethics is one reason. Another is simply practical economics, she said.

Woolard had strong words, reminding me that corruption, an expense, takes dollars away from legitimate projects and lines the pockets of criminals.

“We're paying too much for stuff when this happens. Not getting a good deal." Woolard said. "Every dollar that walks out of city hall to back door or side door is a dollar we're not using to improve a sidewalk, or flooding, or transportation options.”

She led Atlanta’s city council when federal prosecutors indicted former mayor Bill Campbell in 2004.

She watched his trial on corruption charges: bribery, racketeering, wire fraud, tax evasion.  He was convicted of tax evasion, acquitted on the other charges, and served a federal prison sentence.

Today, the same accusations are swirling around contractors doing business with the city. Already two contractors are admitting they paid more than a million dollars to win lucrative city contracts. The FBI’s investigation continues, and Woolard is watching.

“At the end of the day, citizens pay! That million that got paid in bribes didn't come out of the company's pocket. It came out of the contract, and just got returned to city hall. That's how that works,” she said.

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