If you’ve been anywhere near the airport lately, you may have seen the billboards about airport corruption. If you have, but you haven’t visited airportcorruption.com yet, we're here to fill you in on some important information about our beloved Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
What’s Going On?
For years, there has been a simmering movement to transfer control of the busiest airport in the world form the City of Atlanta to the State of Georgia. Under Atlanta’s stewardship, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport has seen decades of corruption. In fact, Dale has been investigating and reporting on the corruption since the 1990s. Now, a bill has passed the State Senate that would transfer ownership to the state. The next step is uncertain, as the bill heads to the House and then to Governor Kemp, who has been mostly silent on the issue.
A History of Corruption
The City of Atlanta has touted their success in awarding airport contracts to businesses owned by women and minorities. According to their reports, 30-35% of all construction and concession dollars go to woman and minority-owned businesses. But what they don’t tell you is who got those contracts.
In fact, the City of Atlanta doesn’t keep very good records about how many contracts were applied for and how the money was awarded. So Dale combined 11 different databases into one database, which the City of Atlanta never did. What he found was shocking.
Corruption By the Numbers
In the last year on record, 3,794 minority and woman-owned businesses qualified to bid for city contracts. And that’s not an easy thing to do. It takes lots of time and paperwork. And of those 3,794 businesses, only 304 received contracts, just over 8%. But it gets even worse. Of those 304 businesses, just 44 businesses received 73% of the money awarded to woman and minority-owned businesses. That’s 1.1% of qualified businesses receiving 73% of the money.
So who are these 44 businesses? They are some of the biggest names in the Atlanta business community. Not surprisingly, they are also businesses that give some hefty donations to mayoral and city council election campaigns. In fact, the largest recipient of city contact money, at over $7 million, was the PRAD Group. Their former executive vice president, Jeff Jafari, was recently charged with bribery, witness tampering, and tax evasion in connection with a City Hall bribery scandal.
In other words, the city’s report of 30-35% of all contract money going to woman and minority-owned business is actually a cover for a scheme to send millions of dollars to businesses that have supported city council members and Atlanta mayors, or even bribed people in power. With that kind of corruption, the City of Atlanta can’t be trusted to continue administering the state’s largest economic engine.
To learn more, go to Dale’s dedicated site airportcorruption.com. The time to act is now!