Who said Bill Campbell had no love for the Atlanta news media?
Last week, jurors in the ex-mayor's federal corruption trial got a rare break from the numbing procession of spreadsheets and bank receipts in the form of Marion Brooks, a former WSB-TV/Channel 2 anchor who spent four years as a Campbell paramour.
Juicy details were withheld, but a few tidbits came out: Brooks said she rendezvoused with the mayor "a couple times a week" when she lived in Atlanta and was treated by Campbell to a $2,400 shearling coat, pricey jewelry and other baubles.
Brooks, who now works the anchor desk at Chicago's WMAQ-TV/Channel 5, said that when Campbell booked accommodations on their frequent travels to other cities, they enjoyed the high life: the Ritz-Carlton in L.A., the Park Hyatt in D.C., the Tides Hotel in South Beach, the Luxor in Vegas, and San Francisco's Fairmont.
And he paid these staggering bills with large wads of cash -- always cash, testified Brooks, who never saw the mayor use a credit card or an ATM. According to her, Campbell was peeling off two or three Benjamins per flunky.
The crown jewel of their jet-set affair was the notorious 1999 Paris junket, where prosecutors say the mayor blew through a $12,000 expense account footed by then-city contractor United Water. To show jurors how much fun Campbell could have on someone else's dime, the feds loaded Brooks' surprisingly bad snapshots into the overhead projector over the objections of defense attorneys.
Look, there's Bill in a striped golf shirt on the Arc de Triomphe. And here he is wearing a ball cap outside a sidewalk cafe in Montmartre, yukking it up in Napoleon's tomb. It brought to mind Where's Waldo? taking an Amelie tour.
Of particular interest to CL readers was confirmation of the rumor that the couple had been introduced by former Loaf columnist and Campbell apologist Tom Houck back in early 1996, when Brooks was WSB's noon anchor. Guess Houck forgot to put that in his column.
Campbell's defense team, which painted their client as a virtuous champion of affirmative action, understandably wanted to quickly whisk the mayor's ex-lover offstage. But first they had to address a potential image problem posed by the newswoman, whose skin is so light that the defense team apparently wanted to confirm her race for the jury.
"Ms. Brooks, you say you attended college in Atlanta; which one?" asked attorney Jerry Froelich.
"No further questions, your honor."
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