ATLANTA - Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell told FOX 5’s Portia Bruner he was surprised to hear of the arrest of Terry Morris, a loyal volunteer on Mitchell's campaign for Atlanta Mayor.
Morris was arrested Thursday after Atlanta Police indicated security cameras recorded him removing these boards from inside Atlanta City Hall and calmly leaving the building. They were placed there by the Mayor's office earlier this week and point out ethics issues Mitchell has had over the years. It was a pointed jab from Mayor Kasim Reed after Mitchell raised issues over the investigation into city contracts signed by the Mayor.
The political slugfest between Mitchell and the Mayor began a few weeks ago with dueling press conferences. An anonymous ethics complaint followed questioning the use of city resources to launch a political attack and added fuel to the fire. Atlanta Police arrested Morris shortly after he left Mitchell's campaign headquarters and charged him with misdemeanor theft.
“We don't condone his actions and certainly he's not on staff. But I think the most important thing to consider here is that an entire squadron of police officers was sent to my campaign when someone was shot and killed right across the street at a gas station a week ago and we only had a couple of officers show up. We've got to get back on the issues that are really important,” Mitchell told FOX 5's Portia Bruner.
Morris was in court Friday in Fulton County on the charges and released on a $1,500 bond. Mitchell told Bruner he did not know Morris planned to remove the signs.
This is not Morris's first time before a judge. He has a criminal history dating back many years. He spent time in state prison in 2000 on a theft charge. Court records indicate since then, he's been arrested several more times in Fulton and in Cobb County and spent more nearly four years in Federal prison for stealing social security checks.
“I am not aware of that was not aware of that and we don't typically do background checks on volunteers. He's a passionate volunteer and whether he's been volunteering for a day or a year we certainly appreciate all those who support my vision for moving the city forward,” Mitchell told Bruner.
But Mitchell insists the bigger problem is clear.
“I've heard a lot of frustration about the town that's being taken out of City Hall and out of the Mayor's office, quite frankly-- related to this campaign and I'm really concerned about it and disappointed. But I'm going to stay very focused on the issues that are important to the city and to the citizens of Atlanta,” said Mitchell.
Mayor Kasim Reed and his staff declined to comment for this story.