Sunday, February 19, 2006

Hotlanta mayor's love triangle

No wonder former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell was (allegedly) on the take: He was supporting a wife and two girlfriends. His Viagra prescriptions alone must have cost the 52-year-old mayor a pretty penny. Girlfriend No. 2, Martina Jimenez, testified last week at Campbell's federal corruption trial that she was 26 when she began dating the married mayor, then 44, in 1998:

[S]he was working as a mortgage broker when she met Campbell at a work-related party in September 1998. ...
She continued to see the married mayor, 18 years her senior, through fall 2001. Campbell was carrying on an affair with TV reporter Marion Brooks during 1998, 1999 and part of 2001, Brooks testified.

(This is from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but is acting squirrelly and I can't get the linking to work.)

Between juggling a wife and two girlfriends, you have to wonder how the mayor ever found time for all that (alleged) racketeering, bribery and tax fraud.

Anyway, the federal prosecutor "questioned Jimenez about dates she traveled to meet the mayor in distant cities in a methodical style. Jimenez said she seldom traveled with Campbell, but met him in New York, Miami, Savannah, New Orleans and Washington and at gambling casinos in Mississippi." (Gambling in Mississippi? Wonder if they bumped into Jack Abramoff while they were down there?)

Corruption and horndogging tend to go naturally together. The original corrupt Democrat, Aaron Burr, was also somewhat notorious as a lady's man. And it's logical, if you think about it: If a man will cheat on his wife, why won't he cheat on the taxpayers, too?

And Campbell apparently needed the extra money, because he liked to show the ladies a big time. Last week, Girlfriend No. 2, former WSB-TV anchorbabe Marion Brooks (left) testified that Hizzoner was a high roller who took her on trips to Jamaica, San Francisco, Mexico and Paris. Of course, Little Miss Journalism ethics -- whose affair with Campbell began in 1996 when she was 29 and he was 42 -- didn't think any of her romantic getaways with the married mayor were newsworthy enough to report to her Atlanta TV viewers. She ought to feel right at home in Chicago. (Mrs. Daley, have you checked up on your husband lately?)

Brooks testified that Campbell loaned her $16,000 in cash to make a down payment on a Chicago apartment. ...
She said Campbell bought her gifts, including bracelets, a necklace, and a $2,400 dress.
And this lavish jet-setting lifestyle was not incidental to the corruption, according to prosecutors:

They claim that United Water, which won a 20-year contract to take the city's water system private, paid for the Paris trip for Campbell and Brooks.
Prosecutors say Campbell signed documents as he was leaving office, giving United Water $80 million more than its original contract.
And people wonder why it's called "Hotlanta."


UPDATE 3/4: While Googling for some facts about Campbellgate figure Larry Wallace, I came across this hilarious article by Scott Henry of Creative Loafing, which is Atlanta's alt-weekly tabloid. Henry has some great stuff:
Brooks, who now works the anchor desk at Chicago's WMAQ-TV/Channel 5, said that when Campbell booked accommodations on their frequent travels to other cities, they enjoyed the high life: the Ritz-Carlton in L.A., the Park Hyatt in D.C., the Tides Hotel in South Beach, the Luxor in Vegas, and San Francisco's Fairmont.
And he paid these staggering bills with large wads of cash -- always cash, testified Brooks, who never saw the mayor use a credit card or an ATM. According to her, Campbell was peeling off two or three Benjamins per flunky.
The crown jewel of their jet-set affair was the notorious 1999 Paris junket, where prosecutors say the mayor blew through a $12,000 expense account footed by then-city contractor United Water. To show jurors how much fun Campbell could have on someone else's dime, the feds loaded Brooks' surprisingly bad snapshots into the overhead projector over the objections of defense attorneys.
Look, there's Bill in a striped golf shirt on the Arc de Triomphe. And here he is wearing a ball cap outside a sidewalk cafe in Montmartre, yukking it up in Napoleon's tomb. It brought to mind Where's Waldo? taking an Amelie tour.
LOL! And, shades of JFK's cozy relationship with the press, Miss Brooks wasn't the only Atlanta media figure keeping mum about Hizzoner's horndogging:
Of particular interest to CL readers was confirmation of the rumor that the couple had been introduced by former Loaf columnist and Campbell apologist Tom Houck back in early 1996, when Brooks was WSB's noon anchor. Guess Houck forgot to put that in his column.
But then, in a passage that probably only seems funny to an Atlanta native like me, Henry takes notice of how the race card was played during Miss Brooks' testimony:
Campbell's defense team, which painted their client as a virtuous champion of affirmative action, understandably wanted to quickly whisk the mayor's ex-lover offstage. But first they had to address a potential image problem posed by the newswoman, whose skin is so light that the defense team apparently wanted to confirm her race for the jury.
"Ms. Brooks, you say you attended college in Atlanta; which one?" asked attorney Jerry Froelich.
"No further questions, your honor."
And no further comment, your honor.