Breaking up is hard to do, particularly when the FBI is involved.
Tallahassee Mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum may no longer be “good friends” with lobbyist and entrepreneur Adam Corey — a casualty of an ongoing federal corruption probe — it doesn’t mean Gillum is totally out of the woods, especially with the Tallahassee Democrat reporting that “City Hall sources say a new FBI subpoena has been served on the city, seeking more records related to the Edison restaurant, correspondence with its developer (Corey) and audits and contracts.”
Here’s why indictments focused on Corey should be a cause for concern for Gillum.
According to city records, there were at least 12 Tallahassee City Commission votes affecting Corey’s lobbying clients or personal investments. The troubling part: Gillum voted yes on every single one.
Even more worrisome is this — a donation to Gillum’s campaign accompanied each of those votes.
Since 2015, Corey has been the target of the federal probe, starting when a self-described developer from Atlanta named “Mike Miller,” later revealed to be an FBI undercover agent, began socializing with local officials and the Tallahassee business community.
Corey, owner of the city-supported Edison restaurant and a one-time Gillum campaign treasurer, quickly emerged as point man, setting up meetings between Miller, Gillum and other city officials. At issue, interest in the Leon County/Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency, using property-tax revenues for improvements to the Frenchtown, downtown and southside districts.
According to the Tallahassee Democrat: “Corey and Miller arranged a weekend of outings in New York City in August 2016 during the same weekend that Gillum was in Manhattan for People for the American Way, the nonprofit agency he worked for until just before he announced he was running for governor.”
Corey helped set up a boat ride to the Statue of Liberty, with Miller and Gillum posing for photos, tickets to a Mets game and for the hit Broadway show “Hamilton.”
Friendliness in NYC is one thing, chumminess in Tallahassee is quite another.
Among the dozen projects with Gillum voting “yes” where Corey had business as a principle, client or investor include the 101 Restaurant, The Edison, Tallahassee Housing Authority, Downtown Improvement Association, and the Tallahassee Hospitality Group. Affiliated agencies and groups were Unconventional Strategies, Rick Kearney, Peter Leach, Paige Carter-Smith and Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox, among others.
Maddox and Carter-Smith, who serves as Downtown Improvement Authority executive director, joined Corey in federal subpoenas last year, as were J.T. Burnette, Chad Kittrell and Kim Rivers — also beneficiaries of Gillum “yes” votes.
In January, Gillum pledged “personal cooperation” to the FBI — and was assured he was not a direct target of the corruption probe.
“Mayor Gillum has zero tolerance for wrongdoing in Tallahassee,” Gillum’s Communications Director Geoff Burgan says. “It’s been clear for months that this investigation has focused on one of his colleagues and others. The campaign is focused on voters’ priorities like health care and public education.”
Nevertheless, considering his history of voting in lockstep with Corey’s interests — despite the current estrangement between the two — Gillum will undoubtedly feel the heat of federal indictments if any.
And, either way, it gives Gillum good reason to worry.