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Friday, August 2, 2013

City's ethics board politely reminds elected officials not to use City Hall printers for making campaign fliers

The Atlanta municipal elections are coming up in November. People are running for re-election, raising cash, shaking hands, and fighting off opponents who drive RVs masquerading as campaign buses nicknamed "the Beast."

During all the hubbub and commotion, it's easy for politicians to get caught up in the thrill of election season and lose sight of what's right and wrong, campaign-wise. The city's board of ethics called a brief time-out and reminded candidates this week via email of the rules when it came to using public property or resources to help their bids for re-election.

And because nothing's more fun than reminding an elected official they shouldn't be handing out campaign fliers (printed out with City Hall's busted photocopier) at the Department of Watershed Management, we're passing that info along to you. Keep 'em honest and all that.

City of Atlanta Board of Ethics Advisory on Use of City Property during Political Campaigns
The City's Code of Ethics bans the use of public property for private advantage. To assist elected officials, employees, and candidates for municipal office, the Board has established the following guidelines that apply to use of city property during campaigns:

City website
* No city official or employee may use the City of Atlanta's website to solicit campaign contributions, seek volunteers, advertise a campaign, or provide a link to any campaign website
* Candidates may place a link at their campaign website to the City's website

City e-mail addresses
* No official, candidate, or employee should use the city's email directory or city email addresses to solicit political support
* Neighborhood planning unit membership lists should be used solely for NPU and official city business
* City elected officials may not use their city email addresses to electronically file their campaign contribution disclosure reports

City facilities
* A candidate may use a city facility during a campaign if the property is a public forum open to all members of the general public, such as the City Hall steps, sidewalks, or public parks
* Campaign events in public parks are subject to the same rules as any other event in a park and may require an application or fee depending on the size of the event and the use of a stage, tent, or amplification
* City buildings may be used for political forums when the forum is open to all candidates in a specific race and the general public is invited to attend the event
* City officials may not campaign, distribute, or post political campaign literature in a city building or on a city vehicle

City equipment, vehicles, and staff
* City officials and employees may not use city computers, telephones, copiers, or staff to promote a candidacy of any individual running for elective office
* City employees may not endorse candidates, participate in political advertisements, or engage in political activity while on city time, wearing an official uniform, or using a city vehicle
* A city employee who receives inquiries about a candidate for municipal office may refer the caller or correspondent to the candidate's campaign committee or campaign office

City funds
* City funds may not be used for campaign purposes
* A Council member may not hand out a city-funded newsletter during a campaign event or while soliciting votes after filing as a candidate for municipal office
* A Council member may not use photographs paid for by city funds in campaign literature unless the photographs are available for use by any member of the public
* A Council member cannot use city funds to pay for email services and mailings for political campaign purposes

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