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The Atlanta chapter of the NAACP broke from protocol Wednesday to speak out against former mayor Kasim Reed’s repeat run for the office, a rare rebuke of a candidate for office from the civil rights organization.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People used to operate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and was explicitly banned by the IRS from wading into political campaigns. However, they changed course in 2017 and became a 501(c)(4), which would allow them more flexibility to voice opinions on political matters.
Richard Rose, president of the Atlanta branch of the NAACP, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that such an intervention was needed at this time.
“The NAACP typically refrains from endorsing a political party or speaking out about a specific candidate. Today, I am breaking that tacit protocol,” Rose said in a written statement. “To do anything less would be an abdication of my mission to help move Atlanta forward, not backward.”
“Atlanta can and must do better than elect Kasim Reed again,” Rose contended. “Thirteen other candidates are running, some with proven leadership ability and political experience, and none with a record of administrative corruption. Please educate yourself on their records. Let’s choose wisely.”
Reed — who served two four-year terms, from 2010 to 2018 — has not yet responded to the NAACP’s two-page letter against his bid to once again become the mayor of Atlanta. He is currently in a statistical tie with City Council President Felicia Moore, as 23.5% of polled voters are supporting him, according to a recent ACJ poll. The poll said 41% of likely voters still had not yet made up their minds.
Three other candidates in the city’s mayoral race — Atlanta City Council members Antonio Brown and Andre Dickens, and attorney Sharon Gay — did not pull more than 6% in the survey conducted by AJC.
Reed launched his campaign bid to return to his former position in the summer, theGrio previously reported. His two terms in office were marked by successes, such as more money for the city and increased support for the police department. However, his administration was also clouded by scandal, including corruption. Two members of his former staff are currently under federal investigation.
According to AJC, the FBI began investigating corruption at City Hall in mid-2015, and have charged six members of Reed’s administration — including his chief financial officer, a deputy chief and chief procurement officer.
The 52-year-old former mayor has never been charged for any inappropriate behavior, but is allegedly being probed for violating campaign finance laws. The ACJ reported that he was being investigated for using campaign funds for personal purchases, such as jewelry and furniture.
“Anything on my watch, I take responsibility for,” said Reed in June to WSBTV. “I’m sorry I didn’t see it faster, and certainly after what I’ve been through personally, but more importantly, what our city was taken through, I would do everything in my power to make sure it didn’t happen again.”
“The Justice Department under William Barr has looked into every aspect of my life for more than three years and took no action,” he continued. “I wanted to be mayor since I was 13 years old. I told you that outside of the Office of Mayor. I would never ever [have] broken my mother’s heart by taking money from somebody.”
Reed is hoping to succeed popular Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who announced earlier this year that she would not run for re-election. She was elected in 2017.
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