After the release of documents that contradict his claims about who paid for his trip to Costa Rica and a ticket to the musical “Hamilton,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum told his supporters that Republicans criticizing him for the ethics scandal is part of their attempt to reinforce “racial stereotypes of black men.”
On Tuesday, Politico reported that, contrary to Gillum’s claims, the mayor did receive a ticket to “Hamilton” from an undercover FBI agent and appears to have not paid for a trip to Costa Rica, according to records turned over to the Florida Commission on Ethics by Adam Corey, “a lobbyist and longtime ally of Gillum.” The documents were subpoenaed by the commission as part of its investigation into trips Gillum and Corey took to New York and Costa Rica.
In an attempt to quell the growing scandal, Gillum posted a video to Facebook urging his supporters not to fall for the Republicans’ “distractions,” which he said were motivated by “racial stereotypes.”
“What I want people to know, despite all the distractions — because I think the Republicans obviously want to distract, want to suggest, all along throughout this trail they have wanted people to believe that somehow I haven’t deserved what I’ve got, I’m unethical, participated in illegal and illicit activity, I mean you name it,” he said.
“The goal is, obviously, to use my candidacy as a way to reinforce, frankly, stereotypes about black men,” he said.
Gillum defended his integrity by citing the lessons he’d learned about honesty growing up. “What I want you to know is that I work hard,” he said. “As the fifth of seven kids to my mother and father and the first to graduate from high school, I learned early you don’t take anything for free, and you certainly don’t take anything for granted, that your word is your bond. As my grandmother used to say, ‘Always tell the truth, because when you tell the truth, you don’t have to worry about lies, you don’t have to worry about covering up for lies.’ So as long as I’m breathing, that’s my goal: to be honest and forthright.”
He then turned his attention back on Republicans: “Now, when it comes to my opponents, you’re going to get a lot of distractions as they enter desperation period as we approach election day,” he said. “We’re going to win this race, and we’re going to win this race the right way.”
In its report on the revelations from the FBI investigation, Politico explains that while Gillum says he personally paid for the hotel during his trip to Costa Rica, records show otherwise (formatting adjusted):
In one of the emails, from June 2016, Corey promised his accountant a breakdown of an $8,868 credit card charge. Corey’s assistant later responded with a list of people to invoice. That list shows that Gillum and his wife, R. Jai Gillum, were responsible for $941.95, but that line was crossed out. A note next to it said, “HOLD ON BILLING.” Gillum’s email address was not included in a subsequent list of people who were invoiced for taking part in the Costa Rica trip. In September, Kise said his client never received money from Gillum.