Gillum CRA Vote Tied to $320,000 Loan to Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Gillum Employer
While mayor of Tallahassee and a Florida gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Gillum was the deciding vote as a member of the Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to award $281,760 to the Frenchtown Redevelopment Partners, LLC, a company that included Harold Knowles and Keith Bowers as “Officers/Directors” in filings with the state of Florida.
Five months before the vote, the Northwest Florida Black Business Investment Corporation (BBIC) approved a $320,000 loan to Sharon Lettman-Hicks. The BBIC listed Knowles and Bowers as “Managers” (MGR) on filings with the state of Florida.
Lettman-Hicks is the owner of P&P Communications which employed Gillum in 2017. Records show he was paid $71,680 in 2017.
Also, campaign records show Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign paid P&P Communications approximately $35,000 in rent from March 2017 to July 2018.
Last month, the Tampa Bay Times reported that a federal subpoena was issued which, in part, addressed issues related to Sharon Lettman-Hicks, P&P Communications, and Andrew Gillum’s campaign for governor.
Gillum’s relationship with Lettman-Hicks and P&P Communications was the subject of several media reports during Gillum’s campaign for Florida governor.
It was reported that the Gillum campaign refused to answer questions about the nature of his employment with P&P Communications, a public relations firm with no website or social media presence.
Did Andrew Gillum know about the loan to Lettman-Hicks before the CRA vote? Did Lettman-Hicks use the loan money for P&P communications?
Andrew Gillum will not answer questions from Tallahassee Reports. Efforts to reach Lettman-Hicks were unsuccessful.
The Time Line
On February 16, 2018 Leon County records show that a loan for $319,132.40 was made to Sharon Lettman-Hicks from the Northwest Florida Black Business Investment Corporation (BBIC).
Collateral for the loan was the property located at 1550 Melvin Street in Tallahassee, Florida. This is also the listed address for P&P Communications and was the address of Gillum’s campaign headquarters for his gubernatorial campaign.
Documents filed with the state of Florida on February 26, 2018 show that Harold Knowles and Keith Bowers were listed as officers/directors of the Northwest Florida BBIC.
Less than five months later, on July 9, 2018 the Tallahassee CRA voted to award $281,660 to the Frenchtown Redevelopment Partners, LLC for development costs associated with a proposed $78 million project on CRA owned property.
The vote was 3-2, with Gillum voting yes.
CRA member Gil Ziffer voted no and stated his no vote was due to the fact the developer had no investment in the project.
Records with the state of Florida show that Harold Knowles and Kieth Bowers were “Managers” of the Frenchtown Redevelopment Partners in 2018 and a the time of the vote.
Approximately two months after the CRA vote, on September 26, 2018, an amendment to the corporate records – filed by Frenchtown Redevlopment Partners, LLC, – removed Knowles and Bowers as “Managers” of group.