ATLANTA -- The Atlanta City Ethics Department will look into the spending of councilman Michael Julian Bond after an exclusive 11Alive investigation.
Bond, the son of civil rights icon Julian Bond, has spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on things you may find questionable.
On Thursday, 11Alive uncovered questionable expenses by Bond paid in part by taxpayer money. The expenses included party favors he bought for his own high school reunion, a private math tutor that he paid to teach him at City Hall and a recent four-day trip to Washington, D.C. that happened to coincide with his family reunion.
On Monday, Atlanta's Ethics Officer Nina Hickson said the city has opened an investigation.
"The ethics office has opened an investigation to determine the facts and secondly to determine whether the facts will constitute a violation of the ethics code," HIckson told 11Alive. "The reporting would suggest that there are some questions regarding the spending of city funds, and so certainly that's an area that is covered under the Atlanta code of ethics."
Hickson isn't the only person who said they saw ethical red flags in the story on Bond. Government watchdog William Perry of Common Cause Georgia issued a press release on Monday morning calling for a deeper look at Bond's spending and more oversight in general.
"It needs to hold these elected officials more accountable," Perry said. "And fortunately your report has come forth and created this investigation and I think people will get to the bottom of it."
Hickson answers to a seven-member ethics board. She said after the story aired on Thursday, she began hearing from members of the board.
"There were a couple of members, I'd rather not disclose who, but yes, they contacted me to find out if this was a matter we were going to look into," Hickson said.
11Alive started asking questions of Bond back in April about some unpaid late fines he owed the state ethics commission. That led us to his expense account, which led to questions about a private tutoring expense of nearly $2,600.
There were also questions about why Bond bought his high school class custom pins and DVDs for a reunion party, and a trip to DC the same weekend as his family reunion.
Hickson said the ethics department will review documents and do interviews of their own because it's not just public money at stake, it's public trust.
"That's what ethics is about, trying to create that climate of trust so that public officials can work on behalf of the community and the community believes they (elected officials) are working in their best interest," Hickson said.
Hickson said that Bond has been notified that an investigation has been opened. She said he will be provided with a list of specific allegations and at that point, he'll have the chance to respond.
Bond issued a statement to 11Alive on Monday saying,
I welcome the inquiry by the Ethics Board. I feel that an objective review of my activities will resolve any outstanding questions about my public service. I also look forward to participating and will cooperate in any way that I am asked. I look forward to working toward the resolution of these issues.
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