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Florida Ethics Commission Finds Probable Cause That Andrew Gillum Violated Ethics Laws

By  Hank Berrien

On Friday, it was announced that the Florida Commission on Ethics had found probable cause that former Tallahassee Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum had violated ethics laws.

According to Jeffrey Burlew, a reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat who covered the announcement on Twitter, the findings of the commission revolved around trips Gillum took in 2016 to Costa Rica and New York City with his former lobbyist Adam Corey, where he received items that he allegedly should have known were intended to affect his official actions. Burlew reported that the Tallahassee Democrat had obtained documents showing the Commission urged probable cause be found on five separate allegations.

The Miami Herald reported:

Gillum and his wife had traveled to Costa Rica in May 2016 with friends including Corey — who became a nexus in the FBI probe — and lawyer and lobbyist Sean Pittman, one of Gillum’s closest political advisers. The Gillums stayed in a villa for multiple nights, and during the trip Corey invited Gillum to meet with “Mike Miller,” one of the undercover agents in town under the guise of an Atlanta developer. Gillum also traveled that year to New York City as an employee of the People for the American Way Foundation, where he went on multiple excursions with his brother Marcus, Corey, Miller, and another undercover FBI agent tied to the case.

Burlew said Barry Richard, Gillum’s attorney, said the issues against Gillum could be reduced to three in number, a ticket to the musical “Hamilton” which Gillum received in New York City; a boat ride to the Statue of Liberty and the expenses from staying at a Costa Rica villa with his wife and the lobbyist friends. Richard stated that the allegations against Gillum “hang on a very slender thread. They rest on an affidavit of dubious credibility signed by Adam Corey, who refused to submit to an interview by the Commission’s investigator or to be deposed and a handful of documents that are more favorable than unfavorable to the respondent.”

Corey had filed an affidavit with the Ethics Commission saying Gillum never paid him for expenses accrued from Gillum’s trip to Costa Rica. Richard allegedly responded that Corey’s affidavit “lacks credibility and should be disregarded.”

But Burlew noted, “The Ethics Commission advocate found that Gillum accepted $941.94 in gifts in the form of transportation, accommodations and meals in Costa Rica.”

The Miami Herald reported that Richard stated, “We’re going to have a full evidentiary hearing before an independent judge. It’ll be open to the public, and everybody can decide for themselves. There for sure will be no settlement.”

The Commission had received two ethics complaints against Gillum filed by local businessman Erwin Jackson: the first came in 2017 and centered on Gillum’s 2016 trip to New York City; the second was filed in the summer of 2018 concerning the 2016 trip he took to Costa Rica.

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