ATLANTA — Mayoral candidate Felicia Moore took down an Instagram post Tuesday and returned campaign money from a supporter who claimed all of Atlanta’s Black mayors were corrupt. That happened as the post drew the ire of Moore’s top opponent and other local officials.
It was a moment that even Moore, Atlanta's city council president, admits was a misjudgment on her part. She tried to minimize the damage by denouncing the supporter's comments after pulling the post.
"This did not come from a third party. This was a post by Felicia Moore’s campaign," said Kasim Reed, the former mayor who is Moore's top opponent in the November 2 mayoral race. While dozens of other candidates are also on the ballot, Moore and Reed have topped two 11Alive polls.
11Alive News recorded the post moments before Moore’s campaign took it down. A man identified by Moore's campaign as Lee Clevenger is seen in the video saying, "For forty years now, and during that time, we have never had a mayor that has a conscience."
Clevenger's social media posts are pro-Trump and anti-Obama; Moore and Reed are both Democrats.
In the video with Moore, Clevenger is heard saying Atlanta mayors since 1979 were "not interested in anything except lining their own pockets." Seconds later, Moore accepts his endorsement.
Since 1979, all of Atlanta's mayors have been African American: Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young, Bill Campbell, Shirley Franklin, Keisha Lance Bottoms, and Reed, who is seeking a third term.
Only Campbell faced federal corruption charges. He was acquitted but went to prison on a tax evasion conviction.
At an event Tuesday morning, Reed and some of his supporters denounced Moore’s Instagram post.
"Lee Clevenger stood next to Felicia Moore and, in front of her, said that every mayor who happens to be Black was corrupt," Reed exclaimed at the event. "If I was standing by somebody who was saying it, I would have corrected them."
He added that Moore showed poor judgment by failing to denounce the statement, instead of posting it on social media.
"You are by the company that you keep. This tells us everything we need to know about Felicia Moore," said Reed supporter and Fulton County Commissioner Khadijah Abdur-Rahman during the Tuesday event.
Other speakers included Kwame Abernathy, son of the late civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy Jr., and state Rep. Stacy Evans (D-Atlanta).
Moore described Clevenger as a "constituent" and said she was unaware of his views posted on social media. Her campaign said she returned a contribution he'd made to her campaign.
Through a spokeswoman, Moore told 11Alive, “It was an unfortunate statement by that constituent, and I should have corrected him or walked away. As everyone in Atlanta knows, I certainly do not share his beliefs about most of our past mayors, nor those he shared on social media. I apologize to anyone hurt by that post.”
In her statement, Moore added, "However, if Mr. Reed wants to play guilt by association, I'd remind Atlanta voters that seven of his top staff and personal appointees have faced federal criminal charges for their actions while he was mayor, including for bribery and illegal weapons charges."