Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling has been caught violating a city ordinance by renting his guest house on Airbnb and Vrbo.

The Decatur Daily reported on Tuesday that Bowling admitted to violating the city’s ordinance prohibiting short-term rentals. His property had been up for rent for months under his middle name, Russell, for around $70 a night.

Bowling reportedly criticized the city’s anti-short-term rental policy during a recent council meeting, noting many people were currently violating the ordinance. However, he neglected to mention his rental property.

“It’s definitely something we need to address for our city because it’s being done,” Bowling told the Daily Decatur. “It’s almost like bootlegging before the city was wet.”

After his misdeeds were discovered, Bowling said he hoped the ordinance would be repealed, but he would face the consequences in the meantime.

“I may need to stop until this ordinance is resolved. This is probably not going to be met with a lot of favor,” he said. “But I’ll just have to man up and deal with it.”

Though some on the Decatur City Council agree the ordinance should be revised, council president Jacob Ladner spoke out against the mayor’s actions.

“We are supposed to uphold the laws that are on the books, and if we don’t like those, we can certainly look at working together to change them,” he said. “But until we do that, I think it’s important for elected officials to model the way for citizens on abiding by the laws that are on the books.”

Councilman Billy Jackson went a step further, saying the mayor knowingly flouting the ordinance gives the city a “black eye,” the Decatur Daily reported.

“It’s easy to say you’re embarrassed after you’ve been caught,” he said. “... I think this gives not only him a black eye, but it gives our city a black eye.”

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