AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Bribes and bull semen? Strange payments in Atlanta bribery figure’s bank records

Sometimes in reporting you stumble across some weirdness.

The Atlanta City Hall bribery scandal has featured plenty. There was the killing of rats as part of an apparent effort to silence Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr., a contractor who has since pleaded guilty in the explosive cash-for-contracts scheme.

That September 2015 message to Mitchell to shut up was delivered on a brick in case the dead rodents weren’t clear enough.

On Thursday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published online an examination of some of Mitchell’s business bank accounts from 2013 to 2015. The AJC found Mitchell’s companies paid more than $1.6 million over three years to companies tied to the Rev. Mitzi Bickers, an influential political consultant who formerly held a high-ranking job in Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration.

The records showed dozens of checks going to Bickers’ companies. But that wasn’t all they showed.

The records showed a construction CEO managing millions in revenue from projects. They showed the mundane tasks of running a company — checks written to pay vendors, cellphone bills and rent.

They also ventured into the bizarre, including a $4,000 wire transfer to a company in California that according to its website specializes in artificial insemination of cattle and bovine semen distribution. It's unclear whether the transfer was for a purchase or investment or some other purpose.

Mitchell’s criminal defense attorney did not respond to the AJC’s requests for comment last week. Neither did Bickers’ legal team.

To read more about Mitchell’s financial activities during a three-year window of the pay-to-play scandal, go to myAJC.com.

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