Former Council Aide Leveraged Knowledge from Job in Comcast Lobbying
(APN) ATLANTA — Wayne Martin, a former Chief of Staff for Atlanta City Councilman Matt Westmoreland (Post 2-at-large), accessed information related to Comcast Cable’s 2009 billion dollar franchise agreement with the City of Atlanta during his time of employment, prior to going to work for Comcast and lobbying the City Council in late 2019 to approve yet another billion dollar franchise agreement, Atlanta Progressive News learned.
This action appears to be a clear violation of City of Atlanta Code of Ordinances, Part II, Chapter 2, Sec. 2-810(a) (“Representation after separation from employment”).
This code section, among other things prohibits officials and employees of the City of Atlanta, within one year of their employment or service, from appearing “before any agency” or receiving “compensation for any services rendered on behalf of any person, business or association in relation to any case, proceeding, or application with respect to which such former… employee was directly concerned… or… personally participated… or which was under such… employee’s active consideration or with respect to which knowledge or information was made available to such… employee during the period of such… employee’s… employment.”
Martin left the City of Atlanta in June 2019 to become the Senior Manager of External and Governmental Affairs for Comcast.
In November 2019, Martin made at least two presentations to the City Utilities Committee regarding the 2019 Franchise Agreement, which was being considered for approval by the Council at the time.
On November 26, 2019, shortly after Mr. Martin testified to the City Utilities Committee, the City’s Integrity Line logged anonymous complaint IL-1100274, alleging a violation of Sec. 2-810(a).
APN obtained a copy of the complaint through an open records request to Amanda Noble, the City Auditor, on January 06, 2020.
“Wayne Martin, former City of Atlanta (Atlanta City Council, Post 2 At Large) appeared before the City Utilities Committee on 11/26/19 to represent his current employer, Comcast,” the complaint states.
“He has not been seperated [sic] from the City for more than a year. This is a violation Sec. 2-810. – Representation after separation from employment, Part A,” the complaint states.
Martin made false statements to APN regarding his level of knowledge of Comcast garnered from his employment with the City.
Martin told APN that even though he worked for Councilman Westmoreland, that he did not become privy to Comcast Cable-related issues, noting that Westmoreland did not serve on the City Utilities Committee at the time and that the 2019 franchise agreement ordinance had not been introduced at the time.
However, the responsive records to an open records request that APN sent to Council Director Theo Pace, have determined that Martin’s statement is a lie.
On March 13, 2019, while working for Westmoreland, and in apparent preparation for his job application to Comcast, Martin emailed himself a copy of the link to 2009 City of Atlanta Ordinance 09-O-1223, the ordinance approving the 2009 Franchise Agreement between the City and Comcast of Georgia/Virginia, Inc.
Because Councilman Westmoreland was not on City Utilities Committee at the time, it appears that Martin solely emailed himself the 2009 Franchise Agreement for the purpose of familiarizing himself with Comcast and Cable Franchise Agreements so he could market himself to Comcast for the purpose of helping Comcast by illegally lobbying his former employer.
Additional records, including an email exchange with an individual named Damola Ogundipe, reveal that on March 15, 2019, Martin attended a Comcast event where he met Ogundipe.
The timing suggests that Martin set out on March 13, 2019 to familiarize himself with Comcast’s 2009 Franchise Agreement prior to the March 15, 2019 event that appears to have led to his subsequent employment by Comcast.
Martin’s level of knowledge of Comcast going into his employment with Comcast suggests that Comcast, too, was aware of Martin’s violation of Atlanta law–which, after all, was not the exception to, but the primary purpose of, Martin’s employment by Comcast.
After APN published the Feb. 24, 2020 article regarding the ethics investigation of Mr. Martin, Martin attacked APN in a phone call in which he accused APN of “casting aspersions” and of filing the hotline complaint.
In fact, neither APN nor any of its agents filed the anonymous hotline complaint. However, APN has provided a copy of Martin’s communications to the Ethics Office to review as part of their ongoing investigation.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2020)