A radical leftist candidate for Governor of Florida has been hamstrung by an FBI investigation regarding his close ties to lobbyists, with whom his relationships are both personal and professional.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Tallahassee Mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has been scrutinized in a federal investigation that “centers around the city’s community redevelopment agency, which steers private and public money to revitalization and infrastructure projects.”
Lobbyist Adam Corey, a longtime friend of Gillum’s, is at the center of the probe, which has seen several rounds of subpoena’s served to the Tallahassee City Hall.
“In 2013, the community redevelopment agency (CRA) voted to give $1.3 million in taxpayer money to help a Corey-associated restaurant project, the Edison,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. “Gillum voted with the rest of his fellow city commissioners — who sit on the CRA — to fund of project. At the time, Gillum’s vote raised eyebrows because of his close association with Corey. One year later, Corey served as the treasurer of Gillum’s mayoral campaign.”
In 2015, undercover FBI agents went to Tallahassee and began building relationships with city officials, including Gillum. One of the agents, identified as Mike Miller, was introduced to Gillum by Corey in 2016.
The meeting was arranged while Gillum was on vacation with Corey and another city lobbyist in Costa Rica. The trio, along with their significant others, spent their vacation in a $1,400 per night villa, which Gillum insists that he paid for personally.
“The mayor paid cash for all of he and Mrs. Gillum’s expenses,” Gillum’s chief of staff Jamie Van Pelt told the Tallahassee Democrat. “After publication, he clarified that Gillum paid cash for his portion of the villa, but used a credit card for all other expenses.”
It is illegal, of course, for elected officials to accept gifts from lobbyists who might look to influence government policy. For that reason, cozying up to lobbyists is suspicious for anyone occupying public office.
Over the course of 2016, Gillum continued his relationship with the lobbyists and Miller, the undercover agent.
“Gillum also joined Corey and Miller in New York in August 2016 at the end of a business trip Gillum took in his capacity with the liberal People for the American Way Foundation,” said the Tampa Bay Times. “In an email inviting Gillum to meet up in New York, Corey noted that Miller had arranged hotel rooms, an outing to a Mets game and a boat trip to the Statue of Liberty, the [Tallahassee] Democrat reported. Gillum’s group may also have attended a performance of the hit musical Hamilton.”
Gillum was photographed with Miller and Corey on the boat trip:
Again, Gillum contends that he paid his own way on the trip, and that he even stayed at a different hotel than the one booked by Miller.
Miller reportedly wanted the city officials to leverage their power “to expand the jurisdiction of the community redevelopment agency.” The expansion included a property that Miller said he wanted to develop.
“He solicited Corey’s help to achieve that goal, and in 2016, the CRA — of which Gillum is the chair — voted unanimously to expand the jurisdiction,” the Tampa Bay Times said.
Gillum was not present when the CRA voted on the expansion proposed by Miller, and has since cut off his relationship with Corey.
The FBI case is currently open, and no charges implicating wrongdoing on behalf of Gillum have been filed.
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