Andrew Gillum rebuked by ethics panel for ‘less than credibly reasonable judgment’

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Andrew Gillum rebuked by ethics panel for ‘less than credibly reasonable judgment’

JACKSONVILLE — Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum “should have known better” than to take a trip to Costa Rica with a lobbyist and his clients, a prosecutor for Florida’s ethics commission told commissioners in a scathing report last week.

In recommending commissioners pursue ethics allegations against the former Democratic nominee for governor, Elizabeth Miller said Gillum accepted hundreds of dollars’ worth of airfare, tickets to the Broadway show Hamilton, and food — including a birthday cake for his wife — without reporting them.

And neither Miller nor commissioners said they believed Gillum’s excuse, which he repeated during the campaign, that he was naive and too trusting of his one-time friend, former lobbyist Adam Corey.

“The problem here is Mr. Gillum did not ask anybody who paid for anything,” said Miller, who’s known as an “advocate” for the ethics commission. “He did not ask anybody, ‘Who do I reimburse? How much did this cost?’ We’re talking about the Hamilton tickets, we’re talking about the boat ride. We’re talking about the cake — the birthday cake for his wife — we’re talking about the local air transportation for $292 that he had a lobbyist make for him and his wife to get from point A to point B.”

Miller implied that Gillum was intentionally ignorant.

“The point is,” she said, “he never intended to know what was paid for, (or) who paid for it, because he wasn’t going to report it if it was a gift.”

Criticism over Gillum’s cozy ties with Corey and his clients — two of whom happened to be undercover FBI agents investigating Tallahassee corruption — dogged the final months of Gillum’s historic run for governor.

And the allegations could continue to haunt Gillum as he positions himself for a potential run for president in 2020.

On Wednesday, the commission released a recording of Friday’s meeting, along with hundreds of pages of records and hours of interviews with Gillum and others — a day after CNN announced that Gillum would be the network’s newest political commentator.

The commission voted unanimously that there was probable cause that Gillum broke ethics rules, but several commissioners lamented having to cast their vote.

Commissioner Daniel Brady, who said he voted for Gillum, called it “as unpleasant a vote as I’ve taken in my 2 1/2, 3 years on the commission.”

“It is very clear to me that Mr. Gillum exercised less than credibly reasonable judgment,” he said. “What is it? You sleep with dogs with fleas, you’re going to get bit? And he should have had, at least in my opinion, some understanding that these people weren’t his close personal friends because they thought he was a wonderful man.”

He added, “I think a person who gets 4 million votes to be elected to the governor of Florida, even though he lost, does not reflect well on our democratic processes and our ability to scrutinize candidates.”

Gillum’s case will now go before an administrative law judge in a public hearing that has yet to be scheduled. He could face fines for each of the five violations.

Commissioners last week were also sympathetic to the argument from Gillum’s lawyer, however, who noted that most of the evidence in the case is coming from Adam Corey, a one-time friend who had a falling out as Gillum began his campaign for governor.

Corey submitted an affidavit claiming that Gillum never reimbursed him for the Hamilton ticket, lodging in Costa Rica, or anything else.

But Corey refused to be interviewed by ethics investigators, claiming through his lawyer that he was issued a federal grand jury subpoena. Gillum, on the other hand, was interviewed twice.

“I just think it’s not right to find probable cause when you have that kind of a circumstance,” Attorney Barry Richard said. “You’re inviting anybody to say anything, and then say, ‘Sorry, I’m not going to answer questions.’”

 

Read More HERE | Source: Tampa Bay Times

 

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