Another round of document dumps released this week, combined with a contradictory explanation during an interview with USA Today editors from around Florida, suggest that Democrat Andrew Gillum may be in significantly deeper legal trouble than he has admitted so far.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported on Tuesday that Gillum may have lied about the reason he used official funds from the mayor’s office to reimburse a developer for the use of a private jet to attend a political event. That’s bad enough, but the next day, during a video interview with USA Today editors from around Florida, Gillum provided his latest version of events surrounding interactions with undercover FBI agent “Mike Miller.” When Gillum was asked for a deeper explanation about his claims that he abruptly ended his relationship with Miller, Gillum offered a story that is easily proven false by a trove of emails and text messages recently made public.
Here’s the original claim made by Gillum:
“Mike Miller was the guy who was around the most, around the city the most, and around me through Adam the most,” Gillum said. “Our communication came to a decisive conclusion because I felt uncomfortable about one occurrence that took place.
“And that was the last time I ever heard from them.”
Gillum declined to provide details about the “uncomfortable situation” that prompted him to cut off contact. He said he never suspected the trio of being undercover agents.
Gillum finally provided his version of those details this week. Here’s what Gillum claims is the final conversation with Mike Miller, whom Gillum, at the time, believed was a developer from Atlanta:
“If we could count on your help here at the local level we could be interested in helping you,” Gillum said Miller told him.
Gillum…replied that he wanted Miller’s support to be out of friendship, not in exchange for some favor.
“That was my way of sort of putting a hard line in place,” Gillum said. “To me, that felt like that crossed into a transaction. To me, if he wanted to support my run for governor, it would mean that he was looking for me to help him.”
During the course of their friendship, Miller never made a specific ask, he said.
“But this encounter, in particular, I was making an ask in my run for governor, and he responded in a way that seemed transactional,” Gillum said. “I never followed up, he never followed up with me and that was the end of it.”
But text records and email messages prove the story to be false. The records show that Gillum didn’t draw a hard line – or any line at all – with the man whom Gillum now admits offered him a quid pro quo arrangement: support for his campaign in exchange for local development help. The records prove that Gillum accepted more than $4,000 from the man to cover the food bill for Andrew Gillum’s kickoff fundraiser. Worse for Gillum, the contribution from the undercover FBI wasn’t reported as required by election rules.
The document dumps, which are required as part of an ethics commission investigation, come at the worst possible time for Gillum, who is clinging to a razor thin lead in the governor’s race, according to most public polling.