Mayor Will Sessoms, a president of TowneBank, has voted dozens of times with the City Council on matters directly benefiting developers who borrowed at least $140 million from the bank. The votes violate Sessoms’ promise not to let his duties to the bank conflict with his public obligations, and some may also violate state law.
The votes began soon after he became mayor in January 2009 and continued as recently as October, records show. Sessoms voted to sell city land to TowneBank borrowers at far below appraised value, to pass zoning changes that let them expand their projects, and to grant variances that protected his bank's loans. He also took votes making it easier for developers to build or encroach on city property, sometimes weeks or months after they received construction loans from his bank.
In 2012, the mayor got involved on both sides of a lawsuit between the city and a client who borrowed $800,000 from TowneBank, negotiating for the city while signing land documents on behalf of the client and his bank, according to court and city files.