Report: Andrew Gillum scheduled meeting with undercover FBI agents during Costa Rica trip with lobbyists

The Tallahassee Democrat report came just days after the FBI issued a new subpoena in the drawn-out case investigating corruption in Tallahassee's city government.
Mayor Andrew Gillum gives a press conference in front of Tallahassee City Hall in January | Credit: CateComm
Mayor Andrew Gillum gives a press conference in front of Tallahassee City Hall in January | Credit: CateComm
Published June 1, 2018|Updated June 1, 2018

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum went on a luxury Costa Rica vacation in May 2016 with a group of lobbyists, friends and investors, the Tallahassee Democrat reported Friday.

But that's not all: during the trip, Gillum received a calendar invite via email from Adam Corey, an investor in Tallahassee's Edison restaurant, to set up a meeting at The Edison with supposed "developer" Mike Miller, according to the Democrat's reporting. Miller was actually an undercover FBI agent.

The story also reports that Corey, who has been friends with Gillum since college, was on the trip along with another Edison investor Sean Pittman and other lobbyists and business associates.

The trip and the subsequent meeting came at the height of a still-ongoing FBI probe into corruption in the Tallahassee city government that produced a new subpoena on Thursday.

READ MORE: FBI serves another subpoena in Tallahassee city government probe

Corey was a prime target of that new subpoena, with the FBI seeking documents about him and the Edison, which was granted $2.1 million in taxpayer money by the city's Community Redevelopment Agency to help with the restaurant's Cascades Park renovation and construction.

Corey also served briefly as Gillum's campaign treasurer during his 2014 run for mayor. The mayor has since cut ties with the developer.

Gillum, who is running for governor as a Democrat, has repeatedly said that law enforcement has assured him that he is not the focus of the probe. But the calendar invite represents the first reported connection between Gillum and the undercover agents, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

"This is not new news," said Geoff Burgan, Gillum's campaign spokesman, directing requests for comment to Gillum's chief-of-staff's remarks in the Democrat. "The meeting that they're referring to was reported on extensively before."

Though he acknowledged the story was not helpful, "this investigation is clearly closing in on someone else in the city, and the campaign is focused on the issues. That's what voters care about."

In the story, ethics experts and watchdogs cringed at the trip, which they said had the appearance of impropriety even without the FBI link. Gillum and his friends insisted to the Democrat that no official business was discussed and he paid for all of his and his wife's expenses.

The group reportedly split a $1,400-a-night luxury villa on Costa Rica's Pacific coast, according statements made to the Democrat.

It is against the law for officials to accept gifts from people trying to influence their vote or other official action, or accept any gift over $100 from lobbyists or groups that conduct official business with the person's office.

No matter what, the repeated news about the feds' investigation of Tallahassee is likely not good for Gillum, who is trailing behind the other Democratic candidates in terms of fundraising.

Burgan dismissed the idea that the story could hamper future fundraising, saying: "The biggest chilling effect on fundraising is that Andrew's the only one who's not a millionaire."

Miami Herald Tallahassee reporter Elizabeth Koh contributed to this report.