Mayor responds to allegations of $1M bribery scandal involving city contracts

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News is the only television station to get Mayor Kasim Reed's reaction to the federation investigation into a million dollar City Hall bribery case.

Construction owner E.R. Mitchell has been charged by federal authorities with bribing high-level city workers in order to gain city contracts.

Reed told Channel 2’s Dave Huddleston he couldn't talk too much about the case, but he did have a message for Atlanta’s citizens.

"Let me make something very clear to the people of Atlanta. We have been cooperating in supporting the work of the U.S. Attorney for months," Reed said.

That cooperation comes after E.R. Mitchell was charged with bribery and money laundering.

Mitchell, a wealthy construction owner, was a big donor for Reed, raising thousands for his campaign.

Mitchell has raised money for other politicians and Reed has not been implicated or charged in this case.
He told Huddleston that his office has nothing to hide.

"We're going to let the facts go where ever they go and we're going to make sure any issues that we have are brought to a close and weeded out," Reed said.

Federal prosecutors accuse Mitchell of spending $1 million to bribe city officials in order to secure construction contracts.

"Everybody at city hall is shocked to hear that," City Councilwoman Felicia Moore told Huddleston.

Moore said she's been pushing for transparency in government for years now. She talked to Huddleston Thursday at her announcement that she's now running for council president.

"If we had checkbook level transparency that I’ve been pushing for, maybe somebody would have caught some of these problems that are now being made," Moore said.

Someone tried to shut Mitchell up

As the allegations were revealed in the million-dollar City Hall bribery case, the big question remains, who at Atlanta City Hall was accepting those bribes?

So far, federal investigators are not saying. But as Channel 2’s Jodie Fleischer found out, someone was very eager to keep Mitchell quiet.

Fleischer obtained a police report showing Mitchell was talking to the FBI at least as far back as September 2015.

Someone desperately wanted to shut him up and sent him a startling message to let him know.

A brick was thrown through his living room window. When Mitchell went outside his southwest Atlanta home, he found at least three dead rats had been placed on his doorstep and on his truck.

"You only hear about this kind of thing in movies. For this to happen in real life shows that there are some pretty desperate people trying to keep this quiet," William Perry, with Georgia Ethics Watchdogs,
told Fleischer.

Perry said the incident is crazy, even for Atlanta politics.

According to a police report, Mitchell told officers "he had a federal case open and that it was related."

Mitchell would not tell police "the name of the person who committed the crime and he did not want to go into detail as to what happened."

He told the officer he would contact the FBI.

"The fact that he's scared to tell the police about his case gives us an indication of how high-level this corruption goes," Perry said.

Mitchell owns several construction-related companies. We now know he's facing federal bribery and money laundering charges.

Prosecutors allege that between 2010 and 2015, Mitchell paid over a million dollars to someone in exchange for Atlanta contracts

"Envelopes stuffed with cash don't go to administrative assistants or low-level people in a contracting department," Perry told Fleischer.

Prosecutors said the bribes were paid with the belief that money would eventually make its way to city officials.

"Bribing to the tune of $1 million is a pretty big deal so I would imagine that would have to go pretty high up in the hierarchy of City Hall," Perry said.

Prosecutors said at least one other person involved in the construction industry also paid similar bribes.

Then there's the question of who received all of that money? Did it stop with the person prosecutors say Mitchell paid or was money funneled higher within City Hall to get him those contracts?

We’re working to learn the answers to those questions.

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