In a surprise move, new Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms asked for the resignations of her entire mayoral cabinet–a total of 35 people, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Bottoms’ demand comes amid the backdrop of a widening bribery scandal that claimed a local transgender minister, Rev. Mitzi Bickers, as its latest pawn: indicted on 21 federal counts that included bribery, money laundering, conspiracy and wire fraud, the Reverend–who had close ties to and once worked in an official capacity of the administration of former Mayor Kasim Reed–faces decades behind bars for her alleged involvement in arranging bribes to high level city officials.
Bickers is a well-connected political operative who has long delivered results for a number of power players, including Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Tony Yarber.
Virtually all of the 35 cabinet members were holders from the Kasim Reed administration.
Mayor Lance-Bottoms has long been a close ally of Reed, who endorsed and campaigned for her in a tough mayoral race against Trump supporter and low-key Republican Mary Norwood.
Neither Reed, a two-term mayor, nor Bottoms, a former judge, have been accused or charged in the ongoing criminal investigation.
Nevertheless, Bottoms clearly is trying to avoid being caught up in any drama. Her decision became breaking news in the early afternoon.
Shortly after squeaking out a win against Trump favorite Norwood, Bottoms said she would take 90 days to “get to know” the Reed staffers on a personal basis, and would decide whether to keep them after that.
Those 90 days are now up.
Meanwhile, the feds is watching: according to reports, more indictments are likely to come down the pike. Local media has suggested federal investigators are looking to cuff other, potentially more significant insiders with ties to the former mayor’s administration.
Local political watchers are themselves waiting to see if Bickers will offer up other names to the feds in exchange for possible leniency.
The feds pulled up on Bickers’ nearly $1 million, lakefront home with a tractor trailer, confiscating a classic 1960 Cadillac Coupe, twin Jet-Skis, a new SUV and lots of other toys–all goodies the feds say Bickers accrued while arranging bribes at city hall.
The local media isn’t letting up on its coverage of the scandal: for many months, Atlanta residents have been treated to a daily dose of media coverage of a bribery saga that seems far from subsiding.
According to the AJC, the Mayor issued a statement saying she would evaluate who will actually stay or who will go, so some of the 35 may get to keep their jobs.
In the meantime, their resignations have been requested.