Andrew Gillum, in his own words, on ethics allegations: Here’s what we learned

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Andrew Gillum, in his own words, on ethics allegations: Here’s what we learned

FBI made “no real asks” until the end

Gillum first met with a trio of purported businessmen who were actually undercover FBI agents on May 16, 2016, at The Edison. Corey invited Gillum to the meeting while the two of them were in Costa Rica, though Gillum said there was little discussion of the meeting during the vacation.

He said when he arrived at The Edison, he noticed then-Leon County Schools Superintendent Jackie Pons wrapping up a meeting with Miller, Sweets and another undercover agent who went by Brian Butler. Pons confirmed in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat that he met with the men at The Edison. But he doesn’t recall seeing Gillum.

Gillum said he went into “full pitch mode” and told Miller and the others that Tallahassee was a thriving place to do business. Miller would later join Gillum’s morning workout group, which also included Corey and Pittman.

“Over the year of my knowing mainly Mike Miller … there were no real asks. It was just sort of like, ‘Hey, I’m in town. You guys working out tomorrow?’ He’d join us at the gym. It was clear to me he was trying to build a relationship, and I wasn’t sure to what end.”

In early 2017, as Gillum, a Democrat, was mounting his run for governor, he asked Miller for his help. Awkwardness ensued.

“(Miller) said to me at that time, ‘Listen, if I were to get some friends to help you, we would need to know that you’d have our back here at the city.’ And that was the first time I got really uncomfortable. At that point, it felt quid-pro-quo-ish. And at that point, I kind of pulled back, and I said, ‘Mike we’re having this conversation because I think we’re friends, and I’d like to have your help as I run this race. But that’s kind of it for me.’ ” Gillum left the meeting and immediately called Pittman to express his displeasure with Miller. Pittman, in turn, rang up the FBI agent.

“Sean apparently reached out to Mike,” Gillum said, “calls me afterward and says ‘I talked to Mike. I told him … I don’t know what you did to the mayor but you like pissed him off, he feels really offended.’ And from that point forward, I never heard from them again. That was it.”

Back story: Sean Pittman encountered ‘Mike Miller,’ too

Gillum assumed boat ride was free

Gillum’s boat ride to the Statue of Liberty included Corey, his brother, Marcus Gillum, and two of the undercover agents, Miller and Sweets. He said he viewed Miller and Sweet’s presence on the boat as “merely social” and that no city business was discussed.

He said he looked up the cost of a large passenger boat ride to the monument beforehand and came up with $17. He acknowledged “maybe you add a little bit more money” because he went on a private boat. But he said he wouldn’t have paid $100, the threshold that requires public officials to report gifts. He said he’d been on fancy boats and yachts before and, “This was not that.”

He added, however, that he took “full responsibility” for the boat ride.

“I did not assume a cost to the boat ride,” he said. “No one said this is what it’s going to cost. The way it happened was Mike said he had a friend who had a boat in the harbor, do we want to go out to the Statue of Liberty? I was like, ‘Sure.’

He said he didn’t question it because “it was really nothing.”

“I shouldn’t say nothing,” he said, correcting himself. “In retrospect, I understand the gravity of all of this. But at the time it didn’t trigger for me that that was a real expense. I understood it to be Mike’s friend’s boat. He had it in the dock. We literally went out and were back in like an hour.”

Gillum said the New York trip grew out of talk among his friends of having a “guy’s trip.” But a couple of women with ties to Miller joined them on the boat outing. It’s unclear whether they were undercover agents, too.

“One was introduced as like Mike’s ex-girlfriend,” Gillum said. “And Mike’s ex-girlfriend brought her girlfriend, an African-American woman. And they were on the boat.”

Gillum denies he got ticket from FBI

Questions about who paid for Gillum’s ticket to “Hamilton” on his last night in New York City dogged him during last year’s general election. During a debate with future Gov. Ron DeSantis, Gillum quipped, “We got 99 issues and ‘Hamilton’ ain’t one of them.”

But “Hamilton” continues to be an issue for Gillum, who insists he got the ticket from his brother, Marcus. Under Florida law, public officials are not required to disclose gifts from relatives.

“I met them on the sidewalk,” Gillum said. “I don’t know if it was in front of the theater itself, but there was a rendezvous. (Marcus) didn’t really tell me about plans. I walked up. He gave me a ticket. And that was it.”

Gillum said he assumed at the time that Corey bought the ticket and he and Marcus “worked it out, that Marcus paid his fair share.” However, Corey said in a sworn affidavit that Miller, the undercover agent, bought the tickets and paid for the boat ride.

“I and to the best of my knowledge the others, including Gillum, were aware Miller had paid for and provided the tickets … and boat tour,” Corey wrote. “I did not pay for any expenses associated with ‘Hamilton’ … or the boat tour.”

Corey told Gillum as much in a text sent after their arrival in New York City. “Mike Miller and the crew” had tickets for them to see the show, Corey said. “Awesome news about ‘Hamilton’ ” Gillum replied.

Gillum said it was his second time seeing “Hamilton.” He said the first time he saw the show, it was with the original cast. Tickets, he said, were about $700 then.

He told the Ethics Commission investigator that he never asked his brother whether he bought the “Hamilton” ticket.

“When this all came up, I was advised not to sort of engage any more deeply in any sort of background on that,” Gillum said. “I had retained counsel on another matter and it was basically their advice. Like you don’t need to know anything you don’t know at this point.”

Marcus in the middle

Gillum fielded questions about his younger brother Marcus Gillum, who he said lived with him at one point in Tallahassee before he moved to Chicago. Marcus Gillum and Corey became friends, hanging out when the two were in Tallahassee and going to sporting events in South Florida together.

He said their uncle had a car dealership in Atlanta and that car sales took Marcus Gillum to a more competitive market in Chicago. He said his brother lived with one of Corey’s friends in Chicago for a time.

He said his brother was currently working for a “real estate tech firm” and sells its app at conventions. But he said he didn’t know the name of the business.

Gillum said it wasn’t unusual for his brother to get him tickets to sporting events. In turn he gave his brother tickets to expensive events in Beverly Hills hosted by the People for the American Way, which he noted is “a very celebrity heavy organization.”

When asked specifically by the investigator, Gillum denied that his brother was ever on Miller’s payroll. Miller operated a fictional, FBI front company called Southern Pines Development.

“Heck no,” Gillum said. “I can’t imagine under what circumstances he would have ever worked for Mike. There would be no reason for that. That would shock me.”

Later, Gillum added, “You’ve kind of blown me (away) with the Mike Miller worked-for thing.”


Read More HERE | Source: Tallahassee Democrat

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