Gillum faces scrutiny on pricey trips with lobbyist

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has yet to provide financial accounting for two trips he took with lobbyists — one to Costa Rica and the other to New York City. Both trips occurred two years ago — in 2016. Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press over the weekend, Gillum said that he would release those financial documents later this week. He earlier promised to release proof that he paid for those trips before the Democratic Primary, but he did not.

Gillum, the long shot candidate turned Democratic nominee for Governor, is under new scrutiny because of an ongoing FBI investigation into public corruption within the city that he leads.

Gillum claims he was told by FBI investigators that he wasn’t the subject of the investigation. Neither the FBI or United States Attorney have confirmed Gillum’s statement.

At the center of the investigation is lobbyist Adam Corey, Gillum’s former campaign treasurer, and a college friend. Corey, not only represented clients doing business with the City of Tallahassee, he also received $2.1 million from the city’s redevelopment district to turn an old city power plant into a restaurant named The Edison. The FBI has focused its corruption investigation on the redevelopment district. Gillum says he severed the relationship with Corey after news of the FBI investigation broke. But that’s not before a photograph surfaced of Gillum and Corey together on a boat in New York City.

Gillum has been less than forthcoming about the details of the trip. He told that Tallahassee Democrat that it was two friends hanging out, calling it an impromptu event while he was in New York on other business.

Tallahassee TV station WCTV first reported that an undercover FBI was also on the trip and revealed this photo of Gillum, Corey and the agent.

News reports later surfaced that the three, along with Gillum’s brother attending the Broadway show “Hamilton” and a New York Mets baseball game. Mayor Gillum denied this, telling the Tallahassee Democrat in 2017, “I have no knowledge of any of that.” That statement appears to be misleading. Gillum, in a written statement to The New York Times, said his brother Marcus paid for the Hamilton tickets and a hotel. The cost of tickets to Hamilton in August 2016 ranged in price from $500 to $750 per ticket.

In May 2016, before the New York trip, Gillum, his wife, Corey, another lobbyist Sean Pittman, and others rented a villa in Costa Rica. Tallahassee Reports newspaper first reported that story. The villa reportedly costs $1400 a day. Gillum claims that he paid cash for both he and his wife’s share of the villa plus food and drink.

Gifts over $100 have to be reported to the City’s ethics office. There are exemptions including gifts from family members.

The Florida Ethics Commission, based on a complaint, is currently investigating the Costa Rica and New York trips. It’s unknown if either the state Ethics Commission or FBI will conclude their investigations before the start of voting. Election Day is 63 days away. However, as state and national media catch up to the FBI probe, Gillum can expect more questions about his trips and the FBI investigation.