Now that Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is the Democratic Party nominee for governor, the press and voters need to take a much closer look into his service as our ceremonial mayor.
Gillum has been consistently involved in issues that the FBI is investigating as part of their work into corruption at City Hall and the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).
While Gillum alleges he was told by the FBI that he’s not a subject of their investigation, no one has ever corroborated that statement.
First and foremost is the ethical concerns around the New York City trip that Gillum took for his former employer. We now know, after persistent questioning by the Tallahassee Democrat, that Gillum stayed on after that meeting, relocating to a plush NYC hotel, the Millennium Hilton, attending the “Hamilton” Broadway play where tickets cost hundreds of dollars, and even going on a boat ride around Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty with Adam Corey and Mike Miller, where pictures were taken.
Gillum has recently told The Washington Post that sometimes his brother Marcus Gillum pays some of his expenses, and he has said that his brother paid his expenses in NYC.
But where did Marcus get the money?
The money came from Miller and the FBI. It appears they paid Marcus, who then paid Andrew’s expenses.
And Andrew didn’t ask who’s paying for all of this? If you’re an elected official and you’re not asking about the source of the money, then you're also guilty of stupidity.
Hint: Andrew, even if the FBI gave the money to your mother to pay your expenses, it’s still a bribe.
So, while Andrew may not get indicted initially, we can certainly expect Marcus to be indicted and then eventually roll over on his brother, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee.
However, that’s not Andrew’s only ethical indiscretion.
He also vacationed in Costa Rica with Corey, a lobbyist who did business with the city, and with Sean Pittman, a lawyer/lobbyist who represents the city of Tallahassee as a lobbyist.
Oh, how so cozy for two lobbyists who do business with the city also spending “down time” with Andrew and his wife in a $1,400-a-night villa. Except it wasn’t really down time, because Corey has admitted doing business with Andrew there and emailing meeting requests for Andrew's calendar.
Finally, after promising for months he would release the Costa Rica receipts, Andrew gave the press some receipts -- not all, because allegedly, that’s all he could get his hands on at the time.
Ethical red flags. Again.
Andrew claims to have paid Corey $400 in cash -- how convenient, because there’s no receipt -- yet Corey’s attorney has said publicly and on the record that Corey never received any money from Andrew for that trip. As if $400 would be his and his wife’s appropriate share of the villa cost each night.
Who to believe?
Gillum also provided receipts for an airplane ticket to Costa Rica, but without any documentation on who paid for the ticket. Is Andrew that stupid to think that reporters aren’t going to press him on who paid? They did press him, and his campaign spokesperson says that’s all he has.
What’s that old saying that the cover-up becomes a worse crime than the crime originally committed?
Let the stonewalling begin.
But, wait, there’s more.
Andrew started his campaign by illegally using city tax dollars to pay part of the cost for a political software program that was then used to send his political emails to city taxpayers.
And it was done on city computers, by city employees, during work hours. A clear violation of the law.
Andrew and his chief of staff Dustin Daniels (who is running for Tallahassee mayor, but that’s another story I’ll tell you about soon), had Andrew's campaign pay part of the cost of the software.
Yet, no one on senior city staff, not the city manager, not the city attorney, not even the city auditor, had any questions, concerns or problems with a private campaign paying some and the city paying some of the cost?
Andrew finally was embarrassed enough when this came out to pay back the citizens for the $5,000 in tax dollars used, but he failed to pay for the use of the computers and city staff. And Dustin was never docked any pay, suspended, or even reprimanded.
Another ethical issue is that Andrew has hired at least 10 people to work for him in the office of mayor. Remember that this is a ceremonial job.
And he paid them over $500,000 in tax dollars, with benefits too, to do exactly what?
Then we discover that Andrew and his fellow city commissioners spent over $100,000 on meals and entertainment in just one year. After that hit the fan, the commission promised to adopt a city policy, but none has ever been created. Another waste of taxpayer dollars so Andrew and city commissioners could live high on the hog at taxpayers’ expense.
Then there’s the ethical issue involving the Edison Restaurant.
Andrew and the commission put out a bid to refurbish the old power plant building and turn it into a restaurant. On city land. With Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) monies.
Guess who won the bid? Corey, of course. The contract required that the owners/investors of the restaurant put up $1.5 million to match the city’s investment.
The contract said that the kitchen equipment couldn’t be used as collateral for a loan because the city owned that equipment and it was to remain free and clear.
During an audit last year, it was revealed that the $1.5 million the owners/investors gave to the city was actually the kitchen equipment which was collateralized for a loan. Nothing was ever done about this gross example of incompetence by city lawyers who worked on this deal.
The owners/investors also received CRA money. Who was the Vice Chair of the CRA – Mr. Corey of course.
This is the guy some want to be our governor?
Barney Bishop III, a conservative, is a former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party and is the president & CEO of Barney Bishop Consulting, LLC, a strategic public affairs firm based in Tallahassee.