Questions surround Atlanta City Councilwoman’s improper payments

City of Atlanta elections are just around the corner. The mayor is unchallenged but some city council races are shaping up to be quite interesting. One that has emerged from the ether is City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong’s reelection. Her district is at the center of Atlanta’s demographic shift. She once had a safe seat, now her race has drawn three challengers. Archibong has the Mayor’s support, but ethics issues have her opponents nipping at her heels.

AT ISSUE

Archibong paid $11,000 to her brother’s company for city work. That’s only a problem if she didn’t disclose this payment to her family, which she didn’t. She received a $250 fine for this transgression, basically, a slap on the wrist.

Archibong defended herself by saying that her brother’s company acted merely a pass through to pay a printer, Clifford Dill, for his work. She said she had to pay him that way because Dill was in bankruptcy (even though he was being paid directly by the City at Archibong’s behest at the same time). These payments were the subject of a AJC piece this weekend.

The explanation of her brother’s company as a pass-through seems to have answered the official ethics concerns, hence the slap-on-the-wrist. “We presented what we had, but at the point she acknowledged what occurred, we began to talk about a resolution,” the Ethics Hearing Officer is quoted as saying. It might be good enough for them but other questions remain.

Like why does someone in bankruptcy require a straw man payment? Maybe we should ask Dill’s bankruptcy attorney?

Oh, how convenient! IT’S NATALYN ARCHIBONG. Dill Case Info

Here’s the way bankruptcy law works: Archibong represented Dill. As his attorney she’s required to certify the truthfulness of the bankruptcy documents including his income and assets. While she represented Dill she also represented Atlanta taxpayers. So while she signed off on papers that certified the amount of assets Dill had, she was making payments to him under the table. 

Strange enough right? Well let’s see what Dill owned. What debts were unsecured and and likely went unpaid as a result of the bankruptcy? Check out the Dill Statement of Financial Affairs

Oh, good, nearly $2k owed to the City of Atlanta. So, if I understand this correctly, and please correct me if I don’t, Archibong directed the City of Atlanta to pay her brother so that he could then pay someone she represented in bankruptcy court, and in so doing allowed her client to avoid the unsecured debt of the City of Atlanta.

 

27 comments

  1. georgiahack says:

    Natalyn Archibong is one of those career DeKalb politicians who lives their life suckling off the public teat. Pays her brother (an unethical guy who has been investigated a lot on his own), pays her niece 5k for a 6 page document on phone procedures, her boyfriend, who lives in her house, has a cushy city job she got him and before that worked in her office as an aide.

    Now she pays a client who was in collections with the City. More of the same.

  2. Rick_Stephens says:

    I truly question the validity of this article as it’s old news, and another non issue to try to sway the voter. Is this author a bankruptcy expert? The facts of this case have been decided and addressed swiftly by people who understand the law. Unlike a typical politician, Archibong was responsible by making sure that this politically driven complaint from a matter that was 4 or so years old was addressed swiftly. I wish the news would talk about the issues as opposed to politically driven articles. For example another candidate is believed to have an interest in cell towers and billboards, something that our community strongly opposes.

    You should visit: http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/interspire/news/2013/10/26/enterkin-district-5-challenger-has-cell-tower-billboard-interests-(update-1).html

    • Charlie says:

      I question the validity of this comment, as it seeks to ask questions in a nice form of misdirection.

      Helpful hint, if you’re going to ask questions in a political forum, it’s usually best to have some clue as to the answers before you ask them.

      Stefan, your move.

      • Rick_Stephens says:

        This article is yet another tactic to elude the public about the truth about Christian Enterkin. The ethics investigation happened so long ago and is old news. Since the infraction, the councilwoman was voted in and she continues to get things done like stopping Cellphone Towers in District 5. Therefore I’m clear as to the answer. I’m also very clear when a challenger is lying through their teeth and trying to spread fluff and propaganda.

        Let’s have Enterkin address the questions asked on APN. Have Enterkin put forth a viable solution for District 5, not some elementary solutions with no real measurable results. If you’re planning on running for public office it’s best you have some clue as to how politics really work. I’m not willing to see my community take several steps backwards because of someone who is incompetent.

        Your move.

        • Charlie says:

          The fact that the article appears today and there’s an election next week makes it todays news.

          Attempting to show up on your first day here and declare that something else is news instead of an elected official helping launder money to avoid it going to creditors which happen to be the taxpayers is relevant, as to the matter of that election next week.

          But again, let’s start with the attempt you as someone who has never graced our presence before today to discredit one of our editors by attempting to imply he knows nothing of bankruptcy court proceedings. Here’s a hit: He does. He’s an attorney. Not a misdirecting sock puppet shill.

        • Stefan says:

          Hey “Rick”! Welcome to the site!

          [deleted]

          And as to bankruptcy, the “people who understand the law” that you claim ran the rule over this transaction were Atlanta ethics officers who were only concerned with the lack of disclosure of the payment of city funds to a family member. Once they ironed out that it was a pass-through transaction, they didn’t delve into the bankruptcy. Maybe they should have, but they didn’t.

          Here’s how bankruptcy works. Your net income (after certain allowed deductions) is less than your continuing obligations. As a result, you seek the protections of the bankruptcy court, which structures your debt and pays off your obligations in order of priority – generally with a monthly payment based on a) your income and b) your liabilities. Often, it is the unsecured creditors who lose out in this transaction. One of the chief reasons to get paid under the table is if you are in bankruptcy and any disclosure of income with result in a forfeiture of those funds to your creditors. This guy was in bankruptcy and was being paid under the table. It is bad enough to take part in such a scheme if you are not representing the person you are paying in court, but if you are…

          Go read rule 9011 of the Bankruptcy Code. I’ll wait.

          • griftdrift says:

            Good to see people finally starting to call out Cardinale’s indiscretions. The day someone produces an actually smoking gun of a kickback, I will dance a jig in the middle of Peachtree

          • APNeditor says:

            This is so insulting, false, and slanderous.

            Moderator, do you all have a policy about allowing slanderous postings on Peach Pundit? If so, I would like to see this comment removed as I have been the victim of slander here. “Stefan” has no evidence to support his assertion that “[G]enerally the only people who do that [link to APN] are the candidates who pay money to that site for positive reviews or the editor, head reporter, associate reporter, or investigative reporter of that site, which are all the same person, Seattle’s own Matthew Cardinale.” Even “griftdrift” admits there is no evidence to support this claim, when he writes about how much he wishes for a smoking gun of a kickback.

            Beyond the slanderous nature of this comment, I must say I am insulted.

            I responded to Ms. Enterkin’s accusations earlier today:
            http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/interspire/news/2013/10/28/apn-responds-to-attacks-by-enterkin-candidate-in-district-5.html

            The fact is that I care deeply about progressive public policy and that is why I have worked hard over many years to improve the Atlanta City Council, through my reporting, through litigation, through public participation, and yes, through the APN elections endorsement process. I have sacrificed a lot, frankly, to launch and sustain APN, attend City Council meetings, sue the City of Atlanta pro se, etc. It is extremely hurtful and disappointing to face these baseless accusations because the truth is that everything I’ve done has been for altruistic reasons. I regret that Stefan and griftdrift appear to be incapable of comprehending the idea that someone might do something for reasons that are selfless and for the public good.

            Beyond that, I do not live in Seattle.

            I don’t consider Enterkin’s allegations to be “fun,” but it might be fun to explore my legal options regarding the baseless claims made by “Stefan” on this website.

            • georgiahack says:

              Mr. Cardinale,

              I am not an attorney, but I really doubt your potential case has any merit. The plight of the 1L.

              I hope you are insulted. You have done a lot for this City (as you alluded to above), I have very often been in your cheering section, but you have no credibility. You can cheer lead for any candidate you want, and I hope you do, but you cannot call yourself a journalist at the same time. This is far from the first time your integrity has been questioned, and if you continue in this tract I guarantee it will not be the last.

              If you really are in search of the truth, take a good look at some of what has come out about Archibong. Yes, she is progressive and most of her votes are good votes, but there are real allegations against her. She did pay someone in debt to the city with taxpayer money. She does have the worst, or close to it attendance record, in City Council. Dist. 5 is the ONLY district in the City to experience an uptick in crime over the past year. These are real issues. Issues that you normally would cover, but since it is one of your favorite candidates you endorse her (before qualifying even began) and turn a blind eye. That is what a supporter does, not a journalist.

              You can’t have it both ways.

            • Stefan says:

              It’s my real name. Let me explain the basis for my statement above. In the article I linked to on Creative Loafing’s web site, it is alleged that you are a paid operative of Archibong’s campaign – I believe that is based upon the disclosed payments to you on her disclosure and the coverage of that that council race which could be viewed as biased toward Archibong. So you see I have what’s known as a “good-faith” belief in the truth of the statement. In addition, I described the statement as an allegation and not fact.

              I am sure there are some people who link to your website that you don’t have a relationship with. You will note above that I said “generally” and it is pretty clearly hyperbole.

              I do retract and apologize for stating you live in Seattle. That is clearly defamatory, which is the word you were searching for when you wrote “slanderous” above.

              Matthew, you do a lot of wonderful things. The challenge to the closed meetings of the City was a campaign for which you shall always be lauded. If you’d like to go further into defending the alleged connection between advertising on your site and your reporting, perhaps you should take it up with Entrekin, and not me, for she is the one who leveled that accusation. None of this discussion is germane to the issue this post is about – an ethics issue regarding Archibong and the bankruptcy court.

              I would suggest, if your motives are purely altruistic, then why accept advertising from candidates at all? It just raises the spectre of a quid pro quo exchange. Why not just fundraise from your readers? Or perhaps you should have an area of the website where you disclose all the payments from candidates?

              Or you could just link here, http://media.ethics.ga.gov/search/Campaign/campaign_ByExpendituresearchresults.aspx?Name=atlanta%20progressive&ExpTypeID=0&OccEmp=&Purpose=&From=&To=&Item=&Paid=&Filer=&Candidate=&Committee=, but that presupposes that the candidates are reporting expenditures correctly, which goes back to the origin of this blog post: the failure to properly disclose expenditures.

              So we’ve come full circle.

              • griftdrift says:

                And Matthew, my old friend, I never said there is no evidence (should I also ask for a retraction? ) I said I wanted a smoking gun. Because when they finally nail your a$$ to the wall, I don’t want any possibility of you slithering away.

              • APNeditor says:

                “Stefan,” aka Mr. Turkheimer,
                Your defamatory comment was: “You are linking to APN – generally the only people who do that are the candidates who pay money to that site for positive reviews or the editor, head reporter, associate reporter, or investigative reporter of that site, which are all the same person, Seattle’s own Matthew Cardinale. Who, it is alleged, is a “paid operative” of Archibong, so that’s fun.”

                You appear now to be trying to backtrack and re-cast your comments in such a way as to establish potential affirmative defenses. However, your explanations do not seem credible.

                After all, your statement–“[G]enerally the only people who do that [link to APN] are the candidates who pay money to that site for positive reviews or the editor, head reporter, associate reporter, or investigative reporter of that site…”–is something that you state as if you have authoritative knowledge, in the context of trying to explain something to another commenter, Rick_Stephens. You hold yourself out as an expert on all things APN. Also, the above sentence appears BEFORE you make any reference to the Creative Loafing article. You describe what you falsely allege to be a general condition, a broad state of facts that allow you to assert a sweeping generalization–that according to you, candidates pay me for positive reviews–and then cite the Creative Loafing article as one alleged example of that condition.

                However, you misrepresent the Creative Loafing article as well, because it does not do anything besides present one candidate’s unsubstantiated insinuation.

                Therefore, you knowingly made a claim that you knew you did not have evidence to support, and therefore you knew was false and defamatory.

                After all, in your explanation, you now state that “you believe” and describe a purported good faith belief. However, you did not use the words “I believe” in your defamatory statements; again, you asserted what you alleged to be a factual summary regarding how I and APN operate.

                Furthermore, in apologizing for and retracting your statement that I live in Seattle, you demonstrated that you are aware of steps you could take [apologize and retract] with respect to the other statements you made; yet you apparently refuse to do that. Therefore, you are standing by comments that you cannot substantiate, that you now admit are based upon belief based upon one article that does not even substantiate that belief.

                What is disappointing to me is, I thought Peach Pundit operated by a higher standard than to allow false and defamatory character attacks by one of its bloggers.

                You also write that there were payments to me — again, not true, so the defamation only continues here.

                Allow me to summarize the elements as I see them here:
                You have made an actual false and malicious statement made against me, and there is electronic evidence you made the statement. This statement was clearly conveyed to more than one third party, that is, the entire readership of Peach Pundit. I believe, for the reasons I stated above, that you were at least negligent in conveying the statement. Finally, the statement you made appears calculated to harm my “trade, office, or profession.”

                While Georgia law allows wide latitude in expressing one’s opinions, statements that imply or explicitly state defamatory facts that can be proven false are unlikely to be protected.

                I’m not too concerned about georgiahack, who appears to exist on the Internet for the sole purpose of commenting on the District 5 race. As for griftdrift, don’t hold your breath, or do; do whatever you like.

  3. georgiahack says:

    Just because something was discovered recently does not mean it is not important. The Ethics Committee did not look at the fact that she spent Tax money with a man in collections with the City. They only looked at her paying her brother. Is is wrong to spend taxpayer money with someone who owes the City? Let’s have Archibong answer that question.

  4. bgsmallz says:

    Wow…so just looking at the CL articles, it seems anytime Archibong is smoked by the press, the sock puppet parade begins. These hits on Archibong seem to keep coming. Seriously, Archibong has all sorts of issues bubbling to the surface.

    Great work here by Stefan. I don’t know enough about it to know the answer, but are there affirmative declarations made on any regular basis about income, etc. or is it just a promise to disclose? It sure would be “interesting” if these two have made false statements to the court about income…

    Welcome to Atlanta, y’all! Where disbarment prevents you from practicing law, but not from writing the laws!

  5. One clarification: The statement of financial affairs that you posted was from Feb. 2005. Archibong’s payments to Dill, through HSI, were in 2007 and 2008.

    The 2005 statement listed Dill’s annual income from the printing business as $4,000. A 2008 amendment listed his gross wages at $2,250 a month, or $27,000 a year.

    I am not a sock puppet. I plan to ask Natalyn about this tomorrow. But the timing of the various documents is such that it doesn’t appear she “signed off on papers that certified the amount of assets Dill had [while] she was making payments to him under the table.” At least not in 2005.

    • Stefan says:

      The pendency of the bankruptcy was from 1/2005 through 11/2009. Many documents were filed by the bankruptcy petitioner by and through his attorney at that time. The 2005 submission linked above was to show the presence of a City of Atlanta debt and included the amount initially paid to Ms. Archibong by Mr. Dill.

      What I assume you are suggesting is that the attorney does not have a continuing obligation to the court and to the trustee as to the assets of the petitioner. I think she does when there is a continued representation and a reaffirmation of the assertions contained in the original, but you can read the code yourself. However, a litigant’s obligations with respect to the contents of these papers are not measured solely as of the time they are filed with or submitted to the court, but include reaffirming to the court and advocating positions contained in those pleadings and motions after learning that they cease to have any merit. I referenced the BR specific rule above in the comments.

      But none of that really matters, the AJC article tells you the reason she used the pass through was because Dill couldn’t negotiate credit and negotiate checks BECAUSE OF HIS BANKRUPTCY and for no other reason. So she is taking specific actions to circumvent a reporting requirement, why, she tells you, to avoid the effects of the bankruptcy. So that’s the first problem, since as she has duties to the court, the second is that she is directing the funds of the city (which I assume without deciding is a fiduciary duty) who is THE OPPOSING PARTY in the BR suit.

      The other issue here, without getting too into the weeds is that there is no “Dill Printing” entity, nor any similarly named entity registered with the State of Georgia. So really the printing business is likely just the alter ego of Mr. Dill and any payments to it ARE payments to Mr. Dill.

      In addition, just to be clear, the 2005 submission is not 4k/yr it is 4k/ year to date, and given the statement is dated 2/18, that’s approximately the same rate as the later submissions. There is no indication of any material change in the yearly totals.

      Anyway, she is going to say that any payments from her brother to Dill were reflected in the amounts he was withdrawing from the company’s accounts (ignoring that that company and Dill are the same) and thus were submitted to the court. That is unlikely, because if it is true there would be absolutely no reason to use a pass-through entity, but disproving that statement would require auditing Dill’s accounts and that isn’t going to happen, and she will just say she relied on his assertions as to his income. The issue here is whether or not you believe an excuse that strains belief as there won’t be a smoking gun.

  6. benevolus says:

    And my questions would be:
    Did she get some actual printing done?
    Was it competitively priced?

    If so, pay the fine and move on.

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