Just hours after a news report claimed he could be under federal investigation for campaign finance law violations, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced his current bid for his old seat has garnered $1 million in contributions.
Reed declared his campaign’s fundraising success during a party in Midtown Wednesday night, while the city’s political circles were still abuzz over an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation that showed federal sleuths suspect he’d used money from a former campaign for the likes of “jewelry, resort travel, lingerie and furniture.”
Speaking to donors and supporters Wednesday, Reed did not address the potentially damning report. Instead, he outlined ambitions for restoring civility in a city that’s grappling with a crime wave spurred by the global pandemic.
“The Atlanta you know is not the Atlanta we knew 40 months ago,” he said of the surge in violent crime, later adding, “Our city’s position in the world has been a bit tarnished.”
On the campaign trail, Reed has touted his beefing up of the Atlanta police force during his time in office. Should he be elected again, he intends to boost support for law enforcement and reform the criminal justice system to be harsher on violent criminals and easier on minor offenders.
But, thanks in part to his role in a sweeping federal corruption investigation that’s nabbed some of his administration officials, Reed has been juggling the title of man to beat and the more dubious position of someone haunted by government scrutiny.
Of the fundraising efforts, he said, “We’ve got $3 million more to go.”
Reed’s Wednesday announcement turns up the heat for competitors — including City Council President Felicia Moore, Councilmembers Andre Dickens and Antonio Brown and Dentons attorney Sharon Gay — angling for a leg up in the contest for which the former mayor is likely to attract the most financial support.
Now dominated by conversations about crime and policing, Atlanta’s mayoral race represents a stark departure from the previous one, in which Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms claimed the chief seat due in part to her promise to create and preserve 20,000 affordable housing units throughout the city before 2026.
Urban planning and housing experts worry housing policy conversations could fall by the wayside as politicians and candidates endeavor to tackle public safety issues.
Moore, Dickens, Brown and Gay told Atlanta Civic Circle in recent interviews that they’ll commit to making housing affordability a top priority. Reed’s team said he’ll be available for an interview on housing policy later this month.
Years after he left office — in January 2018 — Reed claimed Wednesday, he’s a changed man. “I’m 52; I’m not 40 anymore,” he said. “Maturity comes with that.”
“A man, at 52, is wiser, more caring, more thoughtful, more passionate, a better father, a better man, a better brother, a better builder,” Reed said.