Rows of boxes related to the ongoing bribery scandal at City Hall involve Mitzi Bickers, a political operative and former appointee of Mayor Kasim Reed who is a key figure in allegations involving contracts in Jackson, Miss. CHRIS JOYNER / CJOYNER@AJC.COM

AJC Watchdog: Atlanta bribery scandal’s Mississippi connections

The continuing investigation into claims of bribery and bid-rigging in Atlanta City Hall has connections with another scandal-plagued administration in Jackson, Miss.

Mitzi Bickers, an Atlanta political consultant and former city official, has turned up in two lawsuits filed by former Jackson city employees. Bickers helped elect Mayor Kasim Reed and after his election Reed appointed her as his director of human services.

The Jackson lawsuits allege that after Bickers left Reed’s administration, she returned to her work as a political operative. One lawsuit claims she participated in fundraisers for Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber that included parties with strippers in New Orleans and her Jonesboro home and that Bickers returned to Jackson with the expectation that she would get favorable treatment when competing for city contracts.

Yarber and other officials in Jackson deny any conspiracy to fix bids in that city, but Bickers name has come up in Atlanta as an important figure in the federal investigation into bribes allegedly paid for contracts here.

Also named in one of the Jackson lawsuits is former Public Works Director Kishia Powell. One lawsuit claims Powell helped steer contracts to Yarber’s allies. Powell was later hired by Reed to head the city’s watershed management department in Atlanta.

For more on Atlanta’s unfolding contracting scandal and connections to problems in Jackson, read this week’s AJC Watchdog column here.

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