Gillum Fined for Ethics Violation, Four Other Complaints Dropped

Andrew Gillum

Andrew Gillum / Getty Images

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That free April 2016 ticket to "Hamilton" from "Mike Miller" will cost former gubernatorial candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum $5,000 and could, perhaps, tarnish his Democratic Party "rising star" status for years.

Gillum attorney Barry Richard said Wednesday in Tallahassee that his client has agreed to a count of accepting a lobbyist’s gift worth more than $100 to settle an ethics complaint before the Florida Ethics Commission.

As part of the agreement, announced as Gillum was set to go before the commission in an administrative hearing, four other counts of ethics violations against the progressive Democrat were dropped, Richard said.

The complaints stem from a three-year, $500,000 FBI investigation into Tallahassee corruption that dogged Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign.

All along, Gillum maintained he was not a target of the probe, which involved the city’s redevelopment agency, lobbyists, tickets to the play ‘Hamilton,’ and trips to Costa Rica and New York City with "businessmen" who turned out to be undercover FBI agents, most notably one named "Mike Miller."

But text messages, video, photos and an array of documents turned over to the Florida Ethics Commission by lobbyist Adam Corey via attorney Christopher Kise, a former Florida Solicitor General, cast doubt on Gillum’s claim he did not accept inappropriate gifts from "Mike Miller and the crew."

The FBI and state probes involved 2016 trips Gillum took to Costa Rica and New York City with lobbyists and "businessmen" who came to Tallahassee in 2015 allegedly to invest in projects managed by the city’s community redevelopment agency [CRA].

Among those they engaged was lobbyist Corey, a college friend of Gillum’s who briefly served as treasurer of his 2014 mayoral run.

The agents wanted Corey to persuade the city to expand the CRA to include a parcel of land they allegedly wanted to develop. Later that year, the city commission voted unanimously to expand the CRA’s jurisdiction.

Gillum, Corey and the "businessmen" met in New York in April 2016 during a trip Gillum took on behalf of People for the American Way Foundation.

In an email inviting Gillum to meet him and the agent in New York, Corey noted "Mike Miller" had purchased hotel rooms, Mets tickets and a private charter boat to the Statue of Liberty. The two other agents joined Gillum, Corey and Gillum’s brother, Marcus, for the boat ride.

Gillum’s campaign told the New York Times the last night in New York, his hotel room was paid for by his brother, who also purchased tickets to see the musical "Hamilton."

In addition, one of the agents – "Mike Miller" – met with Corey, Gillum and Gillum’s wife while all were on vacation in Costa Rica in May 2016. Gillum maintains city business not was discussed and he paid in cash for the trip.

Receipts released by Gillum from his New York and Costa Rica trips include a bill for a two-night stay at the Mauritania Hotel in Manhattan with payment made to the Open Society Foundation, a George Soros organization, and a $400 cash withdrawal that covered his Costa Rica lodging.

The documents provided by Kise show Gillum paid the airfare to Costa Rica, but on the invoice from Corey’s office that paid for the villa they stayed at, Gillum’s and his wife’s names were crossed out and "Hold on billing" written next to the amount.

Kise said Corey’s office paid for the villa and was never compensated. Gillum says he paid in cash and had a receipt.

The documents included an email exchange between Corey and Gillum, when they were in New York with the "businessmen," regarding tickets to "Hamilton."

In an email inviting Gillum to meet him and the agent in New York, Corey noted "Mike Miller" had purchased hotel rooms, Mets tickets and a private charter boat to the Statue of Liberty. The two other agents joined Gillum, Corey and Gillum’s brother, Marcus, for the boat ride.

Gillum’s campaign told the New York Times the last night in New York, his hotel room was paid for by his brother, who also purchased tickets to see the musical "Hamilton."

In addition, one of the agents – "Mike Miller" – met with Corey, Gillum and Gillum’s wife while all were on vacation in Costa Rica in May 2016. Gillum maintains city business not was discussed and he paid in cash for the trip.

Receipts released by Gillum from his New York and Costa Rica trips include a bill for a two-night stay at the Mauritania Hotel in Manhattan with payment made to the Open Society Foundation, a George Soros organization, and a $400 cash withdrawal that covered his Costa Rica lodging.

The documents provided by Kise show Gillum paid the airfare to Costa Rica, but on the invoice from Corey’s office that paid for the villa they stayed at, Gillum’s and his wife’s names were crossed out and "Hold on billing" written next to the amount.

Kise said Corey’s office paid for the villa and was never compensated. Gillum says he paid in cash and had a receipt.

The documents included an email exchange between Corey and Gillum, when they were in New York with the "businessmen," regarding tickets to "Hamilton."

"I’m eager to get back to the work of registering and re-engaging one million new Florida voters before 2020," he said.

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