Florida’s Commission on Ethics found probable cause to begin an investigation into possible ethics violations by former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
Probable cause does not mean Gillum is guilty or innocent, rather it allows the commission to investigate the four issues brought before them. The issues center on whether Gillum accepted tickets for the Broadway show ‘Hamilton’ as well as other accommodations. It is prohibited under state law for city officials to accept gifts from lobbyists. However, Gillum’s attorney, Barry Richard claims the case has no merit.
“No. There’s no evidence. There’s no accusation. The advocate says that he was hanging out with these people who were lobbyists and having interests but there’s no evidence in this case. There’s no allegation that he ever did anything for anybody in response—as a quid pro quo for receiving a gift,” said Richard.
Erwin Jackson, the Tallahassee businessman who initiated the commission’s investigation into Gillum, said that he hoped the final decision will result in stricter punishment for ethical violations by government officials.
“There’s something really wrong with the Ethics Commission here. Alright? When Rick Fernandez was here, he was found guilty and his penalty was a six thousand dollar fine. Now, what crooked politician is going to be opposed or concerned about maybe if he is found guilty? He is going to have to pay six thousand dollars? As a private citizen, I’m paying a heck of a lot more than six thousand dollars to bring the case,” said Jackson.
Jackson, a long time City Hall critic fully expects Gillum to ultimately face criminal charges.
“I would suspect that he will probably be looking at criminal charges on additional matters as well. So the month of January is not going to be good for Andrew Gillum,” said Jackson.
The Ethic’s Commission will release a written ruling regarding the hearing on January 30th.