Politico tied to Atlanta bribery case removed from Henry board

A political operative and pastor who is a subject in the Atlanta City Hall bribery investigation was removed this week from the board of the Henry County Development Authority.

Mitzi Bickers was removed and replaced Tuesday night by the Henry County Board of Commissioners. She was unanimously appointed to the development authority board by county commissioners on Jan. 17.

Bickers had not been sworn in as a member of the development authority board and had yet to attend a meeting, officials said. Bruce Holmes, the Henry commissioner who represents District 5 and who appointed Bickers, said in an email he removed her “due to recent allegations.”

A federal subpoena was sent to Atlanta City Hall last August for information related to Bickers, who worked as director of human services from 2010 to 2013. The subpoena was made public last month as part of the release by Mayor Kasim Reed's administration of more than 1.4 million pages of documents tied to the federal investigation.

Bickers, a Henry County resident, has not been charged nor named as a suspect in the Atlanta case.

She has, however, been named in a federal lawsuit that contains allegations of misconduct in municipal contracts in Jackson, Miss.

Bickers worked as a political consultant for the 2014 campaign of Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber. A whistleblower filed suit in February alleging she was wrongly terminated and accused the city of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination.

In the lawsuit, the whistleblower alleged Bickers sought to inappropriately influence bidding on a major water and sewer upgrade in Jackson. Bickers is not a defendant in that lawsuit.

In a separate Mississippi lawsuit accusing Yarber of sexual harassment, a former Yarber aide alleged Bickers held a party in August 2014 at her Lake Spivey home where attendees were allegedly greeted by strippers "wearing only body paint." During a separate fundraising trip to the Atlanta area, Bickers allegedly had strippers at her home and arranged for a woman to have sex with Yarber, the suit said. Bickers is not a defendant in that lawsuit, either.

Yarber and the city of Jackson have declined to comment on both lawsuits citing pending litigation.

Numerous attempts to reach Bickers for the past several weeks have not been successful.

Holmes, the Henry commissioner, said he recently informed Bickers of his decision.

“I simply let her know that based on the distraction I had to move in another direction and she understood,” he said.

Holmes said in an email his appointment of Bickers to the development authority board “was made before I had knowledge of the situation in Atlanta.”

He said Bickers “would have brought a unique business acumen we desperately needed to the Development Authority.”

Henry commissioners unanimously approved Pierre Clements as Bickers’ replacement.

On Thursday, Bickers was a no-show at the Fulton County Courthouse for a status conference in the divorce case of Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr., one of two contractors who have pleaded guilty in the Atlanta bribery scheme.

Mitchell's wife, Marjorie, filed for divorce last month and named both E.R. Mitchell and Bickers as defendants. Bickers once worked for E.R. Mitchell, and she also has acquired property from Mitchell in Atlanta and Decatur in recent years.

Esther Panitch, Marjorie Mitchell’s attorney, said Bickers may have interests in a number of companies and properties tied to E.R. Mitchell that Marjorie Mitchell may be entitled to claim.

A judge scheduled a next status conference in the divorce case later this month.

“We are still untangling the web,” she said.