A Who’s Who of region’s leadership contributed to sales tax campaign
By David Pendered
The list of contributions by individuals to the $6.5 million campaign fund for the transportation sales tax is interesting – in terms of who gave, and who didn’t – in a campaign built upon corporate contributions.
Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson is the only one of the 21 members of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable who contributed under his or her own name – $500, on March 16.
Individual contributors such as Johnson account for slightly more than $140,000 of the $6.5 million the campaign expects to raise. The remainder of the campaign fund was provided by about 360 business entities, according to campaign financial disclosures.
Here are some of the individual contributors:
Ann Cramer, the IBM executive who’s so active in the metro Atlanta community, contributed $500 on June 8.
Ray Weeks Jr. contributed a total of $20,000 to the transportation campaign. Weeks was an early leader of the effort to create the Atlanta Beltline, and he led the fundraising efforts for the Beltline in its heady, pre-recession days. Weeks contributed two donations of $10,000 each – on June 1 and June 8. Weeks owns Weeks-Robinson Properties.
Renay Blumenthal donated $500 on April 26. Blumenthal is the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s senior vice president of public policy and was an early advisor on the effort to shape the campaign.
Former state Attorney General Mike Bowers contributed $250 on May 24. Bowers now is in private practice, with Balch and Bingham, and listed an address in Commerce.
Bradley Curry, the former CEO of Rock-Tenn Co. who’s now raising funds and awareness for environmental issues, donated $500 on July 16 – the final day to go on record with a contribution before the referendum.
Kevin Ross, one of the campaign’s two top advisors, contributed $1,000 on June 11. Ross’s firm has been paid about $60,000 for its consulting work.
Dave Stockert, who led the fundraising campaign in his role as chairman of Citizens for Transportation Mobility, contributed $5,000 to the campaign, on April 12. On March 8, Post Properties contributed $100,000 to the campaign. Stockert serves as Post’s president and CEO.
Two accounting firms were fertile grounds for fundraisers seeking individual contributions.
Ernst and Young tallied about 40 contributions, all but a few of them on May 9. PwC notched about 30 individual donations, all dated Oct. 13.
Stockert portrayed the contributions as coming from a wide base of interests. Stockert met with reporters on July 23 to talk about CTM’s campaign disclosure before it was made public.
“The money is from across the board,” Stockert said. “It’s from businesses that just see a need to address the congestion issue we’ve got.”
Of a total of 503 contributions, all but 41 were from business entities.
The corporate community also owned the in-kind contributions. The Metro Atlanta Chamber led the category, in which only business entities provided the yard signs, buttons, and car magnets that – in simpler times – were the domain of mom and pop businesses who wanted to give something back to their community.