The cloud of alleged public misconduct continues to circle around Tallahassee. The Florida Ethics Commission has found probable cause that former City Manager Rick Fernandez illegally accepted skybox tickets to Florida State University football games from a lobbyist at the center of an on-going FBI corruption investigation. He’s also accused of accepting a discount on catering at a restaurant owned by the lobbyist.
Fernandez told the Ethics Commission attending football games was part of his job as city manager. The Commission report said it was a special benefit not available to the public and “amounts to willful blindness that equals corruption.”
Fernandez will have his day in court. He can either fight the allegations before an administrative court judge or enter into a settlement.
The just released Ethics Commission files claim Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for Governor, also attended football games in lobbyist Adam Corey’s skybox in 2016. UPDATE: A Gillum spokesperson says he was there as a guest of Florida State University and would visit other skyboxes while at the game.
Gillum has previously described Corey as a good friend.
Gillum and his wife vacationed with Corey and another lobbyist at a posh $1400 a night resort in Costa Rica. Gillum says he paid cash for his share of the resort. In 2016 Corey and Gillum were in New York City together along with, unknown to them at the time, an undercover FBI agent.
Gillum has long stated that he is not the focus on the FBI investigation. Leaked court documents show the focus maybe Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox. More on the history here from the Tallahassee Democrat.
The City of Tallahassee was recently hit with a FBI subpoena demanding all records that relate to Corey and his Edison restaurant.