Monday, August 5, 2013

City's ethics board looks into councilwoman's payments to her brother's company

Posted By on Mon, Aug 5, 2013 at 12:15 PM

An investigation has been launched into Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong over an alleged ethics violation regarding undisclosed payments to her brother's consulting firm.

An ethics complaint was recently filed against the 12-year southeast Atlanta representative, who's facing off against several challengers in November's city elections. It claims that Archibong violated the city's Ethics Code by paying at least $14,735 from her City Council expense account between 2007 to 2009 to her brother Warren Mosby's company, HSI Systems & Consultants.

The complaint notes that elected officials are required to disclose if a spouse, domestic partner, or family member has "derived any benefit from any transaction with the City directly or through a business in which they have a majority or controlling interest." According to the complaint, the alleged expenditures were not reported on her financial disclosure statements during those years.

"Archibong was very aware that payments to family members were against the Code of Ethics but failed to rectify or address the issue in any form," the claim says.

Archibong declined to comment until findings against her are presented by an Ethics officer.

"That complaint is currently being handled by and is fully within the purview of the Ethics Officer," Archibong tells CL. "As a 12-year incumbent, I have consistently supported legislation strengthening our City's Code of Ethics. I trust our process and [have] respect for that process."

Atlanta's Ethics Officer Nina Hickson also wouldn't comment on specifics surrounding the pending investigation, but tells CL the case won't be resolved at the earliest until the Board of Ethics' Sept. 19 meeting. At the moment, she says a preliminary investigation is underway. If an ethics officer finds probable cause, the findings will be presented at the September meeting. Based on the investigation, that could either lead to a later hearing or a settlement.

While a 2009 performance audit did not find a connection between Archibong and her brother, it did uncover payments between Council President Ceasar Mitchell, then a councilmember, and Pendulum Consulting, a firm that his brother owns. Mitchell eventually reached a settlement agreement for failing to disclose a $15,000 contract and was instructed to pay both a $5,000 fine and $10,000 in restitution.

We've reached out to Archibong's opponents - Matt Rinker, Christian Enterkin, and Jon Jones - for comment. If we hear back from any of them, we'll post an update.

UPDATE, Tuesday, 3:45 p.m.: District 5 Council candidate Christian Enterkin sent CL the following statement regarding her opponent's alleged ethics violation:

"Until we gather all the facts about the ethics complaint and find out who filed it, I feel uncomfortable making a judgment," Enterkin says. "I am committed to running a positive, ethical, issue-based campaign. If the allegations are true, I am sure the proper local and state authorities will act accordingly."

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