U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) is getting free temporary office space in a city of Brookhaven community center as she organizes a permanent district office.

An anonymous email from someone saying they are a “concerned city resident” criticized the congresswoman’s no-rent deal at the Lynwood Community Center in Lynwood Park, questioning whether it is “illegal” or “not ethical.” City spokesperson Burke Brennan said there’s no charge because there’s no cost to the city for offering the previously vacant office space.

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath.

“To the best of my knowledge, we’re not charging her or her office anything. There’s no additional cost to the city to host [McBath’s staff],” Brennan said, adding that it is a temporary deal that began recently and likely will end within a few weeks. “We’re happy to host our district congresswoman as she transitions and hope to build a good relationship with her,” he said.

McBath ousted Republican incumbent Karen Handel in the 6th Congressional District seat in last fall’s election and took office in January. A spokesperson for McBath’s office did not immediately respond to questions and a call to her Congressional office phone went to a full voicemail box. There has been no announcement about where her permanent district office would be. The 6th Congressional District includes parts of Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs as well as other parts of north Fulton and Cobb counties.

Brennan could not immediately say exactly how McBath came to use the offices in the community center, which is a former school building. He said that no community group uses the offices.

Other parts of the center are used for a wide variety of programs, many of which charge users and a pay a fee to the city. The city’s published rental rates for the Lynwood center’s community room is $35 an hour for residents and $70 an hour for non-residents.

Regarding the anonymous criticism of McBath’s office paying no fee, Brennan said, “If there was a cost [to the city], that would be a reasonable expectation.” He likened the situation to the city providing temporary City Hall office space to the executive director of the new Brookhaven Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Lynwood’s not a profit center” for city government, Brennan added, saying that other programs there charge fees based on costs involved.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.