Investigation: Bribery figure paid $1.6 million to political consultant tied to mayor

ATLANTA — A man who already pleaded guilty in the Atlanta bribery case, paid more than $1.6 million to a well-known political consultant who once worked for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Channel 2 Action News has learned.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher obtained financial records documenting the payments as part of a joint investigation with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Among the documents were checks and wire transfers that came from companies owned by E.R. Mitchell who has pleaded guilty to paying more than a $1 million in bribes to an unnamed person to win city contracts.

The payments went to political consultant Mitzi Bickers and her companies and one payment perfectly aligns in amount and in date with a bribe Mitchell admits paying.

For six months, reporters, elected officials and most of City Hall have been trying to find out: Who got the money from E.R. Mitchell?

Channel 2 Action News and the AJC reported in May that federal authorities were asking questions of Mitchell’s former business associate -- Mitzi Bickers.

Last spring, Bickers mistakenly made available revealing emails among her, her attorney and a forensic accountant.

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"We are at a critical time in responding to the government. We need to invest the time and effort to researching and scheduling Mitzi's income sources and preparing to pushback and/or defend what has happened," a forensic accountant said in an email just before the bribery scandal erupted publicly.

Belcher has now obtained dozens of checks from various E.R. Mitchell companies made out to Bickers or companies associated with her.

They total more than $1.6 million written between 2013 and 2015, a time when Mitchell admits he was paying bribes to someone.

Two of the checks note they were for “government relations” with no further explanation. The timing of one payment is suggestive.

In federal court, Mitchell admitted that one of his illegal acts was to wire $110,000 to an unnamed person April 1, 2014.

One of the documents obtained is a record of a wire transfer from a Mitchell company to a Bickers company for the same amount on the same date.

Belcher emailed reverend Bickers attorney and texted her Thursday afternoon for comment on this story, but the attorney never responded.

E.R. Mitchell is cooperating with federal authorities and is scheduled to be sentenced in October.