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Fundraising Group Linking Mayor Reed and Koch Brothers Draws Protest

Sen. Vincent Fort (front) and protesters downtown at the Georgia-Pacific building Wednesday.
Sen. Vincent Fort (front) and protesters downtown at the Georgia-Pacific building Wednesday.

Several Atlanta Democratic leaders are expressing outrage over what they say is a political alliance between Mayor Kasim Reed and the conservative activist Koch brothers.

Atlanta labor and education leaders, along with a few prominent state Democrats, say Mayor Reed has gone too far.

“When I heard the mayor had formed an alliance with the Koch brothers, it thoroughly disgusted me. The Koch brothers are anti-labor, anti-working families and I’m here to voice my displeasure over the mayor allowing them to try and buy our city elections,” said Walter Andrews, president of a local union of ATT workers.

Reed and a group of Atlanta-based businesses that include Delta, SunTrust, and Koch-owned Georgia-Pacific are funding a political action committee that Reed says is aimed at counteracting out-of-state special interest money in Tuesday’s local elections.

Protestors called it an “unholy alliance” and said Reed should return any funds donated by the Kochs.

“The Koch brothers aren’t giving money because they have nothing else to do. The Koch brothers are giving money because they want results. They want to privatize the Atlanta public school system,” said State Sen. Vincent Fort (D – Atlanta).

Committee spokesman Jeff Dickerson dismissed that claim and downplayed the Koch brothers’ personal involvement.

“It’s a matter of ownership only, and not one of politics,” said Dickerson. “Georgia-Pacific is in downtown Atlanta and they’ve always been active in civic affairs. This is not new for them. There’s no attempt to privatize a public school system.”

Koch Industries Inc. bought building-products and paper maker Georgia-Pacific in 2005. 

The political action committee, which has raised more than $200,000 so far, is backing candidates in eight school boards races and five city council races.