JONESBORO — An East Point-based company that does consulting work for Clayton County has given thousands of dollars to commission Chairman Eldrin Bell’s re-election campaign, according to campaign finance documents.
The Collaborative Firm, LLC, has done consulting work for the county’s Housing and Community Development Program for several years. The Clayton County Board of Commissioners awarded a two-year, $241,000 consulting contract to the group last month.
Bell’s campaign finance reports for his bid for a third term as commission chairman show he has also received a total of $2,000 in campaign contributions from the Collaborative Firm since July 2011. He received a $1,000 donation from the group on July 20, 2011; a $500 contribution on Oct. 19, 2011, and another $500 donation on Feb. 1.
The Collaborative Firm’s contributions to Bell are just some of the items found in campaign finance reports for candidates involved in run-offs for commission seats.
While the Collaborative Firm’s donations are the most eye-catching items listed in the reports, the listings reveal where the candidate’s money is coming from. That reveals some of where its base is located.
The finance reports for Bell, who is facing former Clayton County police Chief Jeff Turner in a run-off for commission chairman, shows 80 percent of his campaign donations come from individuals and companies located outside of the county.
The reports show he has received $99,651 in cash and in-kind contributions since early last year but $80,001 has come from outside the county. Some of the outside contributions came from state dignitaries, including former Gov. Roy Barnes and former state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond.
Bell also has received contributions from as far away as Texas and Maryland, however. His campaign war chest had $68,650.48 in cash on hand as of June 30, according to his last finance report.
Bell could not be reached for comment about the contributions.
Turner’s finance reports show his campaign has not nearly as many resources as Bell has had. His campaign had $59.02 in cash on hand as of March 31. Despite that, Turner trailed Bell by only 10 votes once all of the ballots were counted in the July 31 primary.
Many of Turner’s contributions came from former and current Clayton County police officers.
Turner’s June 30 campaign finance report was not available from the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission’s web site.
Because Turner originally filed paperwork with the state to run for Clayton County sheriff before he decided to instead run for chairman, he has to submit campaign finance reports for both offices. A campaign finance report for the sheriff’s bid was filed June 30. It does not cover contributions to his campaign for chairman, though.
Turner said a report for the chairman campaign was submitted electronically by his accountant and he is not sure why it is not available online.
“I didn’t receive any notice [from state campaign finance officials] that one of the reports was not received so I don’t know what happened to it,” said Turner.
Turner’s expenses show he did have a $140.98 campaign expense for a room at the Day’s Inn in Birmingham, Ala. on March 9. He said he got the room because he went to Birmingham for a campaign fundraiser.
“A friend of mine down there was holding a fundraiser for my campaign so that’s why I was down there,” said Turner.
Like Bell, the majority of financial support for both District 3 commissioner candidates, Commission Vice-Chairman Wole Ralph and attorney Shana Rooks, are also located outside of the county.
Rooks received several contributions from attorneys located across metro Atlanta. She has received $28,670 in campaign contributions since last fall and $2,726 of that money came from inside Clayton County.
Rooks’ finance reports show she received a $400 contribution from State Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) on Dec. 8, 2011, and a $300 donation from State Rep. Virgil Fludd’s (D-Tyrone) re-election committee on Jan. 13.
Rooks finance reports also show her expenses include a $200 purchase of Clayton County Chamber of Commerce banquet tickets on Jan. 5; a $250 purchase of Arts Clayton “gala” tickets on Feb. 25; $150 on May 25 for a booth rental at a county Chamber of Commerce event and $250 on June 18 for a sponsorship at Arts Clayton’s annual golf tournament fundraiser.
Ralph’s finance reports show he has received $37,325 in contributions. Of that amount, $3,500 came from people and businesses located in Clayton County.
Ralph received $500 from Barnes’ law firm on June 21, 2011. Many of his contributions come from businesses and individuals located in Atlanta, however.
Notable among the Atlanta donations is a $250 donation from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport concessionaire Concessions Paschals on June 23, 2011 and $250 from Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell on June 30, 2011.
The reports also show Ralph received no campaign contributions from July 1, 2011 until April 1, however. He reported $18,425 in contributions between April 1 and June 30, however. He also listed an April 28 campaign expense of $200 for honorary membership in the Curries Crossing Homeowners Association.
Ralph’s most recent finance report shows his campaign had a total of $20,839.85 in cash on hand as of June 30.