Two prominent media organizations are threatening the city of Atlanta with legal action for refusing to release records related to a public corruption probe.
On Jan. 18, the U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed that a construction contractor had been charged with paying $1 million in bribes to unnamed city of Atlanta officials. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, Elvin R. Mitchell Jr., was arraigned on conspiratorial bribery and money laundering charges. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Mitchell, 63, is the owner of E.R. Mitchell Company, Cascade Building System, LLC, E.R. Mitchell Group, Inc. and EC & WT Construction Company Inc.
Atlanta Loop and other media organizations requested records related to the case from the city of Atlanta, but the city refused, citing two exemptions in the open records law that exempt records pertaining to investigations. Atlanta Loop filed a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office, which runs the state’s Open Government Mediation Program. The Atlanta Journal Constitution and WSB-TV are threatening a lawsuit.
According to the AJC, a letter sent to the city requests the production of the records by Feb. 3.
Mitchell pleaded guilty on Jan. 25 and agreed to help the prosecution in its investigation. Here’s a copy of the guilty plea which outlines the terms of his agreement with the prosecution: Guilty Plea
The AJC also reported that during the investigation, Mitchell was threatened with dead rats and had a brick thrown through is window. Police arrested Shandarrick L. Barnes and charged him with throwing the brick through Mitchell’s window. The AJC reports that Barnes worked for Mitzi Bickers, who previously worked for Mayor Kasim Reed.
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