There was a cloud of suspicion over Andrew Gillum’s bid to become first Black governor of Florida.
His opponents, Republican Ron DeSantis and the GOP alluded to him being guilty of corruption. It is true that there was an FBI investigation, but Gillum was never the main focus and now federal authorities have unveiled a 44-count, 66-page indictment of another Tallahassee politician and a city official that involved six companies, five other players and a bank in a wide-ranging bribery, extortion, fraud, and racketeering scheme, Politico reported.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 20: Andrew Gillum
Jamarlin talks to Andrew Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee and leading Democratic candidate for Florida governor. They discuss the DNC taking the Black vote for granted, its silence on the killing of 60 Palestinian protestors, and whether big tech and Silicon Valley elites can be regulated at the state level.
Prosecutors charged Tallahassee Commissioner Scott Maddox with fraud, bribery, extortion, and racketeering. An associate, political consultant Janice Paige Carter-Smith, is alleged to have led a lucrative conspiracy to extort and bribe businesses. Both defendants pleaded not guilty.
The corruption indictment does not include Gillum, who was Tallahassee’s mayor at the time and served from 2014 to 2018.
Still, during the campaign, Republicans spent at least $7 million on TV ads — 27 percent of the total $26 million dropped on air in the general election — attacking Gillum in connection with the FBI probe, Politico reported.
DeSantis won by narrowest margin ever: 0.39 percentage points, or 32,463 votes out of more than 8.2 million cast.
“If the FBI had something on Gillum, they would have brought it by now or it would be in this indictment,” said Steven R. Andrews, a criminal defense attorney. “They got nothing on Gillum. He got screwed.”
There was someone close to Gillum who was affected. His former college friend, lobbyist Adam Corey, was “ruined with all this b.s.,” Andrews said.
“Gillum’s connection to the FBI inquiry has always been indirect. It seems to spring from his friendship with a Tallahassee lobbyist named Adam Corey. In 2015, Corey befriended an undercover FBI agent posing as a developer named Mike Miller. Corey then introduced Gillum to Miller, and scheduled a meeting between the two men while he and Gillum were on vacation in Costa Rica. (Gillum says he paid his share of the trip’s costs; Corey says he did not.) Later, Corey, Miller, and Gillum visited New York City along with Gillum’s brother. Miller obtained Hamilton tickets for the group, though Gillum said his brother purchased them,” Slate reported.
“The FBI never subpoenaed records from Andrew,” said Gillum’s attorney, Barry Richard, who is representing him in the state ethics case. “They never said he was a suspect. They told him to his face that he wasn’t a target. The most likely thing is the whole investigation targeted Maddox from the start.”
But according to many, the damage to Gillum’s campaign was already done.
“With the mayor’s name not being listed in the indictment, there’s a sense of vindication. But as we said all along, this is not a surprise to us. It’s not a surprise to the mayor. He wasn’t a target,” said Jamie Van Pelt, Gillum’s former chief of staff in City Hall. “But this isn’t an ‘I told you so’ moment, for our community. This is a very somber time. When something like this happens, it shocks a city.”
After being accused throughout his campaign of being tied to wrongdoing, Andrew Gillum's name was conspicuously absent from a 66-page indictment of Tallahassee officials.
The probe, records indicate, ultimately had little to do with Gillum.https://t.co/lt3xZ2dbJ2
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 13, 2018