Corporate campaign contributions would be cut to $250 per candidate every four years if Common Cause prevails in Atlanta

By David Pendered

The complete breadth of the campaign finance reform Common Cause is seeking from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed became clear at the group’s media conference this morning.

If enacted, all companies that do business with Atlanta would be limited to a contribution limit of $250 over the course of four years for each candidate and office holder, according to Common Cause of Georgia.

The push for campaign finance reform by Common Cause is timed to coincide with the city’s pending award of contracts for all the food and beverage concessionaires at Atlanta’s airport. The amount of space up for grabs in contracts that will last at least a decade is about 191,000 square feet, which is equal in size to almost two average Wal-Mart stores.

From the day the proposed reform is enacted, companies that violate the limit would forfeit their existing contracts with Atlanta. Companies that exceed it would be ineligible to compete for city business, according to the proposal.

The current limit on campaign contributions is $3,800 per candidate, according to William Perry, executive director of Common Cause of Georgia.

Reed could enact this reform by executive decree, Common Cause officials contend. Reed did not attend the event at City Hall and has said previously that the existing campaign finance rules allow people who are not wealthy to raise money to run for office.

The author of the white paper said Wednesday that powerful reform is needed because of Atlanta’s long history of scandals involving campaign contributors who went on to receive city contracts. The study contends that airport concessions contracts have historically been awarded to insiders and campaign contributors.

“Because of the environment that has spawned from the scandals we chronicled [in the white paper], Atlanta has become the poster child of the need for this kind of reform,” said Kerwin Swint, a political science professor who wrote a white paper on the matter for Common Cause.

Click here to read the mayor’s response and more about Swint’s white paper.

Check back for updates.


David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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