- The Washington Times - Monday, January 16, 2006

ATLANTA (AP) — Former Mayor Bill Campbell, who presided over Atlanta during its most prosperous period in recent history, a span that included the 1996 Olympics, is returning to defend himself and his administration in a federal corruption trial.

Mr. Campbell is accused of accepting more than $160,000 in illegal campaign contributions, cash, junkets and home improvements in exchange for city contracts.

The 52-year-old charismatic ex-politician — once considered a rising star in the national Democratic Party — is charged with seven counts of racketeering, fraud and bribery.

The trial, which starts with jury selection today, follows a seven-year federal probe into corruption at City Hall that lasted almost as long as Mr. Campbell’s 1994-2002 tenure as leader of the South’s largest city. The investigation led to the convictions of 10 former city officials and contractors, all tied to the Campbell administration.

Now, prosecutors will make their case against Mr. Campbell, armed with thousands of documents and dozens of potential witnesses intended to show that he used his position to enrich himself and friends.

Mr. Campbell is accused of accepting $50,000 in cash from a strip-club operator who wanted help getting a liquor license for a second club and $55,000 from a computer company vying for a contract to prepare the city’s computers for the year-2000 problem. He also is accused of accepting an all-expenses-paid trip to Paris worth nearly $13,000 from a water company.

Mr. Campbell — a lawyer — is the longest-standing member of his defense team, having changed attorneys several times since his indictment nearly 18 months ago.

He has denied the charges.

“They’re lies from beginning to end,” Mr. Campbell said when indicted in 2004. “The only thing that’s correct in this indictment is the spelling of my name.”

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