Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum had hoped Tuesday’s release of receipts from two trips that are part of an FBI investigation into public corruption would put to rest any suggestion of wrongdoing on his part. But, the receipts that were released appear to have raised only more questions, giving his Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, more opportunity to use the FBI probe against Gillum.
“When trying to defuse a story, never release half the info. Release all the info. Overwhelm them with info. Releasing half only invites more scrutiny. This is only the beginning,” Brad Herold with the DeSantis campaign said in Twitter post following Gillum’s release of the records.
The two trips that are in question were taken in 2016 to New York City and Costa Rica that included long-time friend and associate Adam Corey, who is a target of the FBI investigation. Gillum has insisted he’s been told by the FBI that he is not a focus of their investigation.
The FBI’s case has not resulted in charges and Gillum’s name has not been included in any of the subpoenas issued to the city of Tallahassee seeking records.
In releasing what turned out to be a partial list of receipts from the two trips, Gillum tried to turn the tables on DeSantis, who has been critical of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the U.S. elections and possible collusion by President Donald Trump with Russia.
“The FBI has a job to do — and whether it’s Washington, D.C., or Florida, Congressman DeSantis and President Trump should allow the agency to do its work,” said Gillum. “Here in Florida, we’ve done everything we can to aid the agency, while Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump have done the exact opposite — demonizing the FBI and making the case that collusion is not a crime.”
But the documents released by the Gillum campaign don’t include all expenses associated with the two trips that were taken before the FBI investigation became public. On the New York trip, it’s unclear which events on the itinerary were attended by Gillum and who paid for them. On the Costa Rica trip, there is uncertainty over the payment of accommodations at a luxury villa. Gillum could only produce a $400 ATM withdraw and said he paid for the villa with that money.
The release of the records followed a meeting with a state ethics investigator and Gillum and his attorney Tuesday morning after a Tallahassee businessman filed a complaint with the Florida Ethics Commission regarding the trips.
The DeSantis campaign said the documents only add to the questions about Gillum’s involvement in the case.
“These receipts do nothing to shed light on his luxury trips to Costa Rica and New York City with lobbyists and undercover FBI agents,” said Stephen Lawson, DeSantis’ communications director. “In fact, they simply raise more questions about Gillum’s ongoing involvement. The people of Florida deserve answers, and Andrew Gillum keeps refusing to provide them.”
The DeSantis campaign continued to put pressure on Gillum Wednesday morning regarding the release of the receipts.
“The problem? The “release” was incomplete at best, and at worst just another attempt by Andrew Gillum to obscure the truth,” the campaign said in a news release.
Gillum and his campaign had hoped to defuse the controversy that has surrounded these trips and his involvement in the FBI probe, but it appears he has added to it.
“When it comes to Andrew Gillum’s Tallahassee dealings, his dizzying web of deception is quickly entangling his bid for Governor. The voters of Florida—and the FBI—are catching on quickly, and it won’t be long before Gillum is simply forced to answer,” the DeSantis campaign added.