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Following the money: Atlanta mayoral candidates disclose campaign finances

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ATLANTA (CBS46) — Money can make or break a high-profile election.

That’s why CBS46 Investigates is digging into campaign finances for Atlanta's top mayoral candidates.

According to University of Georgia polling, those candidates include Felicia Moore, Andre Dickens, Kasim Reed, Sharon Gay and Antonio Brown. Each candidate was required to turn in their campaign finance reports by midnight Oct. 7. Four of the five did — only Antonio Brown did not.

CBS46 investigative reporter Rachel Polansky explains which of the top candidates are raising the most money — and where it's coming from. 

Kasim Finances.jpg
Sharon Finances.jpg
Felicia Finances.jpg
Andre Finances.jpg

Fundraising Reports:

Former Mayor Kasim Reed has raised $2.8 million dollars. That is made up of 2,697 donations from more than 2,000 donors.

Attorney Sharon Gay comes next with $1.7 million.

Council President Felicia Moore follows her with $1.1 million. That is made up of 2,767 donors.

And, Councilman Andre Dickens is not far behind her with just over $1 million. That is made up of 2,598 donations from more than 1,800 donors.

Personal Loans:

While Gay brought in $1.7 million fundraising dollars, $1.1 million of that came from personal loans she made to herself. Without those loans, she'd be fourth in the fundraising race behind Dickens.

Reed made a $28,000 personal loan to his campaign, and Dickens made a $25,000 personal loan to his campaign.

Felicia Moore and Antonio Brown did not make any personal loans to their respective campaigns.

“You really look at two big buckets: What’s the total amount of money raised, but also, what’s the total amount of individual donors that can vote in that election? Often times, the person with the largest coalition of support doesn’t necessarily have the largest amount of money but they have the largest donor base in that constituency,” David Emadi, executive director of the Georgia Ethics Commission.

Emadi says every dollar is not the same. While it's great to get a large donation from someone in another state, it's not a voter. Still, he says, fundraising is key to a successful campaign.

“It gets you up on air waves, it gets you up on TV, it circulates your name and it allows you to put together higher quality,” Emadi said.

After all, more money means more ads — and more ads can mean more name recognition.

“I would say it’s very difficult to win without name ID,” Emadi said. "Name ID can be a good thing, name ID can be a bad thing. It’s just, what do people associate with that recognition?"

Notable donors:

Rapper, T.I., donated $4,300 to Reed’s campaign.

TV personality, Kandi Burruss, who stars on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, donated $2,800 to Reed’s campaign.

Candidates Respond to CBS46 Investigates:

Andre Dickens’ Campaign:

“Andre Dickens’ campaign has all the momentum at just the right time. Over 1,000 individuals from the City of Atlanta have donated to this campaign highlighting the local, grassroots support we have in this race. Our message is resonating and this report tells the same story as recent polls: Andre Dickens is well on the path to the runoff and to becoming the next Mayor for the City of Atlanta.”

Kasim Reed’s Campaign:

“Despite entering the race later than every other competitor, Kasim outraised three of the other candidates in the first month of his campaign. In fact, his fundraising efforts made him the only candidate in the history of Atlanta mayoral politics to raise $1 million in twenty days — with his first fundraiser garnering more than $500,000 in contributions in less than 24 hours. This outpouring of unprecedented support from grassroots donations and from community and business leaders across the city is a clear indication that his commitment to making Atlanta safe is resonating with voters.”

Sharon Gay:

“I have been fully committed to my race for mayor from the start. Not being a public figure like the other major candidates, our challenge has been to introduce me and my ideas to all Atlanta voters. To that end, my husband and I have been willing to invest some of our resources on behalf of the city that has been so good to us."

Felicia Moore:

"I am so very grateful for the depth and breadth of support our campaign for Atlanta Mayor has received from thousands of contributors across the city. My team and I remain focused on letting all voters know that I am the best qualified candidate to make Atlanta safer. We are extremely optimistic about making it into a runoff and ultimately winning this race."

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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