Watchdog group: Resign from office, Councilman Bond!
Bond, unsurprisingly, says he won't resign
- Joeff Davis/CL File
- Atlanta City Councilmember Michael Julian Bond
Inside Atlanta City Council's mostly empty chambers, the city's ethics board last week settled its largest ethic case ever. Councilman Michael Julian Bond agreed to pay more than $15,000 — including both a $3,900 civil penalty and $11,320 in reimbursements to the city — for a litany of violations over the past five years.
Between 2010 and 2014, Bond used his elected office to receive complimentary tickets to Dragon Con for himself and family members, accepted thousands of dollars in travel advances for personal trips, and used city funds and staff to plan activities related to his high school reunion. According to Bond, he has already paid the city the full reimbursement agreed upon in the settlement.
But an ethics watchdog group is calling for greater action. More specifically, Common Cause Georgia wants Bond to resign from office. William Perry, the group's executive director, tells CL he'll urge the at-large councilman to step down at today's Council meeting.
"This case has gotten to the point where enough is enough," Perry says. "Bond had the most egregious fine handed down in its existence. It's time for him to step down in an effort to restore public trust. ... He should step down, put his name on the ballot again next election, and let the people decide."
Common Cause Georgia has also sent a letter to Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard calling for a criminal investigation into Bond's misuse of public money. Based on the councilman's admissions in the ethics settlement, Perry thinks there's enough evidence to seek a grand jury indictment.
We've included a copy of the letter below:
As Bond indicted in his apology letter last week, he tells CL that he won't resign from office, given that voters just re-elected him in November 2013. Bond, who was first elected in 1994, says he hopes to use his office to regain the public's trust and pledges to be "extremely more open" about his public office.
"I share Common Cause's anger and frustration over the situation," Bond says. "No one is as angry and disappointed in Councilman Bond than Michael Bond. I've spent my entire life around public activists, in public activism, and in electoral politics. It's my personal calling in life. This episode has shaken me, personally. It has been an eye opening experience to learn how you can easily make mistakes while believing that you are doing well on behalf of the people."
Moving forward, Perry hopes Council will pass legislation promoting greater accountability from elected city officials. That includes Councilwoman Felicia Moore's recent efforts to make more city records available to the public. Bond says he supports Moore's transparency measure, but also wants to look at other options to enhance the public's trust in City Hall.