Bribery scandal could impact Atlanta's mayoral election - CBS46 News

Bribery scandal could impact Atlanta's mayoral election

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

The bribery scandal at Atlanta City Hall could have a profound impact on this year's mayoral election.

Atlanta is in the midst of an historical election that will see the departure of Mayor Kasim Reed and more than half the members of city council. But bubbling just beneath the surface of all that is the ongoing federal investigation into corruption at city hall, and it's not over.

Some political observers say the timing of any new revelations in the case could favor the candidates who are seen as city hall outsiders. Many of the city hall outsiders are mortgaging their campaigns on the belief that voters are so tired of politics as usual, and corruption, that they won't choose anybody connected with the city, especially in the mayor's race.

The latest corruption scandal at city hall has netted not one, or two, but three guilty pleas. The latest was with Adam Smith, the city's top purchasing agent, telling investigators that he took at least $30,000 in bribes over two years. But contractor E.R. Mitchell told the feds he paid out more than $1 million to city hall insiders. That's a lot of money, and a lot of mystery just before a huge city election.

Cathy Woolard is a former city council president who was not in office during the scandal. Of the top eight candidates for mayor, she is one of only three bona fide city hall outsiders.

"When I'm mayor, I'm going to hire a COO who's going to be on it all day long, and we're going to dismantle procurements, we're going to dismantle permits, and we're going to start all over again because this is ridiculous. It just keeps going on and on," says Woolard.

The Reed Administration torpedoed Vincent Fort's bill to create an inspector general to watchdog corruption in Atlanta.

As the commission chairman, John Eaves quarterbacked the tax bill revolt for Fulton County residents, adding that all the mayoral candidates connected to city hall are to blame for the bribery scandal. 

"None of them can be able to stand up and say they are blameless in this," says Eaves. "This is a bruised eye for our city. They should own up to their responsibility that they had, either as an elected official or someone who was hired to oversee this process."

Some of the other top candidates like to consider themselves insiders who are also outsiders at heart. Just how much of an issue it is remains unclear. 

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