Atlanta mayor slams Georgia governor after he sues her over masks

(CBS News) — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms responded to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s lawsuit against her and the city council over the mayor’s mask mandate and recommendation to roll back reopenings. Bottoms criticized Kemp’s handling of the pandemic as “illogical” and vowed to “fight the governor about this in court.”

“To be sued based upon issuing voluntary advisory recommendations really is just a waste of taxpayer money in our state,” Bottoms said on “CBS This Morning” Friday. “I think a better use of taxpayer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing in our state, and not to waste it on suing me personally and our Atlanta City Council personally simply because we’re trying to save lives in our city.”

Kemp filed the lawsuit against Atlanta officials Thursday, seeking to block Bottoms’ mask mandate after he refused to issue a statewide order. He is also challenging the mayor’s July 10 guidance to close restaurant dining rooms and urge residents to only leave their homes for essential trips, despite Georgia’s current surge in coronavirus cases.

Bottoms called it “odd” that Kemp had filed the lawsuit on July 16, over two weeks from the state’s first city-wide mask mandate placed on Savannah on July 1, and a week after the governor’s hometown of Athens imposed a similar order on July 8.

It was not until after President Trump landed at Atlanta’s regional airport and he did not comply with the city’s order that Kemp filed the suit, Bottoms said.

“It is very clear that the governor is putting politics over people,” she said.

Bottoms called Kemp a “Trump loyalist” who was working hard to “please” Mr. Trump at the expense of Georgia residents.

Asked by co-host Tony Dokoupil whether the governor’s position was “killing people,” Bottoms replied: “Absolutely.”

“I think that when you are reckless as the governor has been, when you disregard science as the governor has done, then certainly people are suffering and people are dying in our state,” she said. “And our numbers are rising at a record rate.”

Bottoms said her decisions were guided by the CDC and Emory University research, both institutions headquartered in Georgia. She also said business owners calling for “consistency” influenced the mask mandate.

“And quite frankly, it’s very simple: wearing a mask helps stop the spread of this virus,” she said.

She denied criticism that the rollback recommendation would hurt Georgia’s economy, emphasizing that they were “advisory.”

“We will continue to do everything that we can do to make sure that people are safe,” she said.

Governor Kemp held a press conference Friday morning in which he accused Bottoms of playing politics. He said he refuses to sit back and watch “disastrous” policies devastate the lives of Georgia residents, and while he strongly urged the public to wear masks, he said it was not up to the government to “defeat” the virus.

“It’s the community that defeats this virus, not the government,” he said.

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