Andrew Gillum: A timeline of events leading up to the June 22 federal indictment
Andrew Gillum gets his start
In 2003 Andrew Gillum was elected to the Tallahassee City Commission, becoming the youngest person to serve in the capacity. His name would later be mentioned in numerous lists of young, up-and-coming politicos.
In 2010, Gillum made a brief bid to lead the state Democratic Party via this story, from the Miami New Times: https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/rising-star-andrew-gillum-31-enters-race-for-florida-democratic-chair-6552159 Rod Smith would eventually win the position.
In 2014, Gillum made the jump to Mayor of Tallahassee, entering the race after former Mayor John Marks got hit with a slew of ethics charges for which he was later acquitted. https://news.wfsu.org/wfsu-local-news/2013-04-04/gillum-becomes-first-entrant-into-2014-tallahassee-mayoral-race
April 2015: The FBI starts looking at Tallahassee, per the Gillum indictment
August 2015: The Tallahassee Democrat reports an undercover FBI agent posing as developer Mike Miller with a company called Southern Pines Development out of Nashville, attends an annual chamber conference in Sandestin. The Democrat reports "Miller” was introduced to several local officials through former lobbyist Adam Corey. Corey was a longtime friend of Andrew Gillum. The two had been friends since college. https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2017/06/30/mike-miller-developer-fbi-agent/441383001/
A former associate of Corey’s recently noted “Adam is a connector, naturally friendly. That’s how I met him. He makes sure everyone knows each other in the same room and he remembers things about you next time you meet. The FBI wanted an in, and they found it through Corey—the guy who knew everyone. From there, the FBI simply had to dangle their bride and see who would take the bait. I think Corey thought it was a genuine business opportunity.”
Said another person familiar with how the FBI operates: “often an investigative tactic is to first go after the small ones, that’s Adam.”
2016: It’s quiet. Why? The U.S. Department of Justice has a longstanding policy to put certain investigations on pause due to “election sensitivities.” Per this 2012 memo: “Politics must play no role in the decisions of federal investigators or prosecutors regarding any investigations or criminal charges. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party. Such a purpose is inconsistent with the Department's mission and with the Principles of Federal Prosecution.”
Also in 2016: Gillum takes a trip to New York City to see the play "Hamilton." He does not disclose who paid for this trip.
March 1, 2017: Gillum announced his gubernatorial campaign: https://news.wfsu.org/state-news/2017-03-01/its-official-gillums-running-for-governor though the announcement was marred by questions around Gillum’s purchase of a political email system with city dollars.
March 10, 2017: Less than a week after his announcement, the local conservative blog, Tallahassee Reports cited an ethics complaint filed against Gillum’s for the software purchase. https://news.wfsu.org/wfsu-local-news/2017-03-10/gillum-says-hell-cooperate-with-probe-into-email-system-purchase Read the complaint via Tallahassee Reports: http://tallahasseereports.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Letter.pdf
Rumblings of trouble ahead
June 14, 2017: The City of Tallahassee was hit with a wave of federal subpoenas that were then thought to be related to spending by the local Community Redevelopment Agency for The Edison, a restaurant at Cascades Park, which involved local developer JT Burnette, Paige-Carter Smith and Adam Corey, a former campaign advisor to Gillum. https://news.wfsu.org/state-news/2017-06-23/subpoenas-fly-as-feds-investigate-city-development. Gillum was NOT named in the investigation at the time. He stated he hoped the issues would be resolved and said the city would be cooperating with the probe. He also said the FBI approached him about its investigation: https://news.wfsu.org/wfsu-local-news/2017-06-23/gillum-pledges-full-cooperation-for-fbi-probe
June 14, 2018: Local businessman Erwin Jackson filed an amendment to a prior ethics complaint against Gillum. It involves a trip the mayor took to Costa Rica, that Jackson stated was paid for by lobbyists Corey and Sean Pittman https://news.wfsu.org/wfsu-local-news/2018-06-14/jackson-amends-gillum-ethics-complaint-to-include-costa-rica-trip. While Corey and Pittman provided receipts for their trip and disclosed it, Gillum did not and claimed he paid for it in cash. The amendment was added to an existing ethics complaint about a 2016 trip Gillum and his wife took to New York City—this is the same trip that features in the current federal charges against Gillum.
August 20, 2018: Gillum kicks off a statewide bus tour for his gubernatorial campaign. During an interview with WFSU, he claimed the FBI probe and ethics complaints were “targeting him.” Gillum had not been named as a subject in the probe. At the time of this story, he was trailing the Democratic field and his fundraising was lower than other candidates. https://news.wfsu.org/wfsu-local-news/2018-08-20/as-primary-nears-gillum-laments-fbi-probe-heads-off-for-statewide-bus-tour
August 24, 2018: A week before the gubernatorial primary, Gillum still trailed front-runners Gwen Graham and Phil Levine. https://news.wfsu.org/state-news/2018-08-24/gubernatorial-primary-races-tight-heading-into-primary-week.
August 31, 2018: Gillum wins the democratic gubernatorial nomination in an upset https://news.wfsu.org/state-news/2018-08-29/as-gillum-shocks-florida-with-upset-win-general-election-already-shaping-up-as-contentious
Sept. 24, 2018: The campaigns go on the attack, with Republicans raising questions about Gillum’s 2018 trip to Costa Rica and his relationships with lobbyists—an issue that continued to dog his campaign. https://news.wfsu.org/state-news/2018-09-24/website-wars-florida-gop-gillum-launch-attack-websites
November 6-17, 2018: Gillum loses the Governor's race to Ron DeSantis. He concedes on election night, and again a few days later after a recount. https://news.wfsu.org/wfsu-local-news/2018-11-17/after-recounts-gillum-concedes-again.
The DeSantis campaign’s strategy of bringing up the ongoing FBI probe in Tallahassee is successful. https://news.wfsu.org/state-news/2018-12-20/2018-in-review-andrew-gillums-historic-gubernatorial-runA
December 12, 2018: At this point, Gillum has not been named as a target, though the probe has resulted in a 44-count indictment against City Commissioner Scott Maddox and Paige Carter-Smith. https://news.wfsu.org/wfsu-local-news/2018-12-12/breaking-44-count-federal-indictment-leveled-against-scott-maddox-carter-smith They’re accused of conspiring to operate a racketeering enterprise that engaged in acts of bank fraud, extortion, fraud, and bribery. Maddox and Carter-Smith operated two companies collectively known as “Governance.”
Per the indictment, Governance was part of a racketeering enterprise that extorted money and accepted bribes from clients -- under the color of Maddox’s political office and through fear of the economic harm that Maddox could inflict in his position as a City Commissioner. The indictment alleges that Maddox voted on matters and exerted influence on City employees to take actions that benefitted the businesses that were clients of Governance.
The walls start closing
Jan 25, 2019: The Florida Ethics Commission drops a political bomb. It finds that Erwin Jackson’s original ethics complaint questioning who paid for Gillum’s 2016 trip to New York City, including hard-to-get tickets to the play ‘Hamilton’, has probable cause and that it has started an investigation. https://news.wfsu.org/wfsu-local-news/2019-01-25/floridas-commission-on-ethics-now-investigating-andrew-gillum
April 2019: Gillum goes before the Florida Ethics Commission regarding his trip to New York https://news.wfsu.org/wfsu-local-news/2019-04-22/gillum-ethics-hearing-scheduled-for-wednesday FBI agents, including the mysterious Mike Miller, were on the trip and were expected to testify in Gillum’s case. The Tallahassee Democrat later reporter Gillum “opted to settle the ethics charges against him on Wednesday, short-circuiting what could have been a bruising final hearing and agreeing to a $5,000 fine for accepting a gift over $100 from a lobbyist.” https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/local/fbi/2019/04/24/andrew-gillum-ethics-hearing-delayed-until-11-a-m/3538733002/https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/local/fbi/2019/04/24/andrew-gillum-ethics-hearing-delayed-until-11-a-m/3538733002/
May 10, 2019: Powerful trial attorney John Morgan blasts Gillum on social media for keeping $3.5m in his campaign account—money Morgan says Gillum should have spent during the gubernatorial race. Morgan was also a major campaign donor to Gillum. https://news.wfsu.org/wfsu-local-news/2019-05-10/gillum-and-morgan-spar-over-gillums-unspent-campaign-money
May 30, 2019: Gillum is hit with a federal subpoena. Also subpoenaed: Gillum’s longtime advisor Sharon Lettman-Hicks, along with others. The subpoena, first reported by the Tampa Bay Times, requests records from Gillum going back to January of 2015 along with more from his campaign, a charity he worked for, a donor, and Gillum’s Political Action Committee. The subpoena, dated March 26th, marks the first clear evidence that Gillum is now part of an FBI investigation. The news of the previously unreported subpoena came after Gillum had recently announced a new voter registration effort, called “Forward Florida.” https://news.wfsu.org/wfsu-local-news/2019-05-30/gillum-faces-new-federal-subpoena
July 15, 2019: Trial attorney and wealthy political donor John Morgan again blasts Gillum over the unspent $3m in Gillum’s campaign account. This time, Morgan alludes to Gillum spending campaign money on himself, and also raises questions about Gillum’s newly launched voter registration effort and transfer of $500,000 to the newly created “Forward Florida”. https://news.wfsu.org/wfsu-local-news/2019-07-15/andrew-gillum-john-morgan-reignite-feud-over-unspent-campaign-money
March 13, 2020: Conservative commentator Candace Owens breaks a Miami PD report that lists Andrew Gillum as being found in a hotel room where a person overdosed. Owens alludes to an “orgy,” but adds it’s not confirmed. https://twitter.com/realcandaceo/status/1238469123350204417 Gillum, through a spokesman, later issues a statement admitting his presence in the hotel room and to being drunk but says he did not use drugs. Prurient images of the incident begin to circulate online and are eventually published by the U.K. outlet, the Daily Mail. Longstanding questions about Gillum’s sexuality are now public. https://news.wfsu.org/wfsu-local-news/2020-03-13/andrew-gillum-present-in-hotel-room-where-another-man-possibly-overdosed
March 15, 2020: More details of the Miami hotel incident emerge, and Gillum announces he’s going to rehab https://news.wfsu.org/wfsu-local-news/2020-03-15/andrew-gillum-to-enter-rehab-after-being-tied-to-overdose-incident-in-miami-hotel\
July 20th, 2020: Gillum returns, albeit to Instagram, where he discusses his sobriety, his father’s battle with alcoholism, and how he struggled to cope following his gubernatorial loss. https://news.wfsu.org/state-news/2020-07-20/andrew-gillum-returns
September 2020: Gillum, in a televised interview with host Tamron Hall, says he is bisexual. He revisits the Miami hotel incident and the disappointment of losing the Governor’s race https://news.wfsu.org/2020-09-14/andrew-gillum-says-hes-bisexual
August 24, 2021: Local Developer J.T. Burnette and Paige Carter-Smith would go on to be prosecuted along with former City Commissioner Scott Maddox on federal corruption charges. The Tallahassee Democrat covered the sentencing hearing https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/local/fbi/2021/08/24/j-t-burnette-and-codefendants-face-wide-range-possible-sentences/8163153002/
June 22, 2022: Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and his longtime advisor Sharon Lettman Hicks are indicted. Lettman Hicks faces 20 counts and two charges related to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud; Gillum faces 21 counts and three charges-- including lying to the FBI about who paid for his 2016 trip to New York to see Hamilton--a trip later found to have been paid for by the undercover FBI agents who posed as Nashville developers under the guise of a fake company called Southern Pines all those years ago at a conference in Sandestin.
Both Gillum and Lettman-Hicks claim the case is politically motivated. Lettman-Hicks withdraws from the House District 8 race. In a statement, she says, "I find it stunning that these charges have come to light just days after I became a viable candidate, yet this is the America that so many, whom I had hoped to represent, deal with day in and day out in their communities."
Gillum issues a statement through his attorney. “Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political. Throughout my career, I have always stood up for the people of Florida and have spoken truth to power. There’s been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee. They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now."
The U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case is Jason R. Coody. He was appointed as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida by the United States District Court on April 25, 2022, under President Joe Biden’s administration.
Gillum and Lettman-Hicks plead not guilty to the charges.