The most dramatic exchange in the WSB Atlanta mayoral debate

Atlanta Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms. AJC/Phil Skinner

The most dramatic moment in WSB’s Atlanta mayoral debate came near the end of the 90-minute event, when former state Sen. Vincent Fort took a calculated swipe at Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms – as if inviting her to jab back.

She did, knocking him over tax liens he accrued while in the Georgia Legislature. Relishing the moment, Fort said “one thing that the people of Atlanta will not tolerate is hypocrisy.”

And then he dipped into his jacket pocket – defying debate rules forbidding props – and pulled out what he said were tax liens with Bottoms’ name on it. The audience “ooohed” and the other candidates leaned in.

“People who live in glass houses should not throw stones,” he said.

When the camera shifted to Bottoms, she said the tax liens are about 20 years old, and then offered a deeply personal detail. They were incurred when she and her husband racked up an “enormous amount” of medical expenses when they were struggling to get pregnant, she said, and now “paid and satisfied.”

“We had financial hardship. But unlike Sen. Fort, I paid those tax bills,” she said.

Then the cameras ping-ponged to Fort, who acknowledged he had his own liens and that he had “an arrangement to pay anything I owe.” He pivoted back to Bottoms, saying Atlantans don’t appreciate “hypocrisy” from her and claimed that at least one of her tax liens was from a few years ago.

She pivoted right back, repeating no less than three times: “Did you sign an oath of office saying you don’t owe money to the government?”

Answered Fort: “I have arrangements with anyone I owe. You don’t know the law. I do.”

Watch the exchange at the 1 hour and 22 minute mark here.

Reader Comments 0

30 comments
Chloecake
Chloecake

 If tax liens matter in Atlanta's race,  why not in Milton's? The mayor, running for reelection, has had over $500,000 in business payroll tax liens over the past 10 years. Some have been paid but the time period suggests a pattern how he operates his businesses. And it doesn't seem to matter. Just wondering why this good ol'boy seems to be another teflon don?

KROmen
KROmen

Neither of them was in my top two anyway. Thankfully, I don't have a dog in this fight.

LookCloser
LookCloser

So in order to even be considered for Mayor of Atlanta you've got to be black???   What's up w/ that?   It's almost a joke.  What happened to getting a "qualified" regardless of skin color?  Oh yeah, that went out the window when Martin Luther King died.....He would be very disappointed in the racist blood that runs through  the black community now.   

Babycat
Babycat

Stupid is as stupid does

TrueBlueDem
TrueBlueDem

So Keisha Bottoms is a financial deadbeat...she needs lots of money...so the good folk of Atlanta should elect her Mayor so she can cash in and make plenty of money to pay off her tax liens, water bills, etc. Makes perfect sense!!

Davidricardo
Davidricardo

@TrueBlueDem So she can vacation in Martha's Vineyard and even buy a house there, but she can't pay her taxes and water bill. Are her bills current on the Vineyard?


prescottatl
prescottatl

Bottoms is at the center of the City Hall corruption ring.

AJC or Bluestein needs to follow up on her tax liens from 2014

She was lying.

prescottatl
prescottatl

No, they are just the tip of the Keisha Lance Bottoms iceberg.

How has she gotten away with not paying her water bill (thousands of dollars) For years! Not a “one month spike”

at the same time she has continued to accrue multiple IRS liens.

And with all this going on she manages to buy a house on Martha’s Vineyard? Something doesn’t add up...

I like how she called Jeff Jafari an upstanding business man too ha

zekeI
zekeI

Too bad Atlanta will elect another incompetent black mayor!

EdGraham
EdGraham

Mary Norwood would make an excellent mayor but the black power elite in the city, joined by their friends around the country and the Georgia Democratic Party, will make sure that one of the black candidates is elected mayor.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

I agree and believe Keisha Lance Bottoms will be the next Mayor, with her primary task to provide tail coverage for Kasim Reed.

Belay5011
Belay5011

@EdGraham I think Norwood would make a great mayor, but her inability to denounce Trump in this climate is a big problem. 

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

Which of the candidates is an unemployed hilbilly from Dawson County?

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

The pot calling the kettle black; they are both corrupt, as are the rest of the candidates.

papadunc
papadunc

I believe I heard Fort say that one of the liens he was holding on Ms. Bottoms was dated 2014, not 20 years ago.  Was that true?

Southern Lady
Southern Lady

OK but Bottoms stated that she had a financial hardship nearly 20 years ago and she paid her taxes in full. SO there is no issue with her.


The issue is with Ford he still owes taxes and lied stated that he does not have any tax liens. This is called hypocrisy when you lie and become dishonest.

So the bottom line is issue is not having debt. The issue is acknowledging you have tax liens or debt and and again paying your debt off. Do not justify why you have have it.

Davidricardo
Davidricardo

Yet Bottoms still managed to vacation for a month in Martha’s Vineyard. Look it up. She’s a liar.

Davidricardo
Davidricardo

Bottoms also didn’t pay her water bill in full the entire time she was on the council. Look it up.

prescottatl
prescottatl

She didn’t just vacation for a month. She bought a house on Martha’s Vineyard.

Davidricardo
Davidricardo

@prescottatl She vacationed there prior to buying a house, which was a relatively recent purchase. She started going to the Vineyard around 2012 or 2013.  This is not speculation or hearsay. This is a known fact.

NeboSuki1
NeboSuki1

Why would Fort go after Bottoms for something of which he's guilty too?  That's just amazingly stupid!!

Agatha Winterhans
Agatha Winterhans

@NeboSuki1 He called her a hypocrite. He didn't call her  a deadbeat taxpayer. She raised that issue, and the writer's presumption is that he laid a trap for it.

JBene
JBene

Fort said that Bottoms's liens were much more recent than 20 years ago - i.e. that she was lying with her medical bill excuse.   Reporters should get to the bottom of that claim. 

Agatha Winterhans
Agatha Winterhans

@JBene It doesn't mean she was lying. It means that when she had the bulk of historical liens they accrued during a time when she was incurring elective medical debt. Then she had other debt at a different time. Reporters should get to the bottom of your lack of reading comprehension skills.