Political Insider

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The tale of a nearly $50K check in an Atlanta city council race


The National Association of Realtors Fund must really want Kirk Rich elected.

The organization reported spending $49,001.95 to support his race against attorney Jennifer Ide for an open City Council seat representing a swath of east Atlanta vacated by Alex Wan.

Big checks from outside groups are somewhat routine in state legislative races or statewide contests, but they’re rarer in relatively sleepy council elections.

According to the Open Secrets transparency advocacy, that’s more than the Chicago-based group gave to any of the hundreds of U.S. House or U.S. Senate candidates it supported during the 2016 cycle.

And the flood of money from the organization, which cannot coordinate with Rich’s campaign, could shake up the race: Rich has raised about $150,000 overall while Ide has collected about $120,000.

Rich, a veteran commercial real estate broker with deep ties to the industry, said Thursday that he learned of the contribution from this reporter – "holy Toledo," was his first reaction - although he said he had recently started to see flyers from the group.

“They understand the value of the community and understand how important what we do is to the health of the community,” he said of the trade group.

Ide, for her part, said she was disappointed to see a "huge sum of out-of-state money" seeking to influence the race.

"Decisions about who represents our neighborhoods should be made by neighbors without the undue influence of anonymously funded industry groups," she said.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.