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Florida Commission Finds Probable Cause to Investigate Gillum for Ethics Violations

Democratic Florida gubernatorial nominee and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum concedes the race to Rep. Ron DeSantis in Tallahassee, Fla., November 6, 2018. (Colin Hackley/REUTERS)

A Florida ethics commission announced Friday that there is sufficient evidence to proceed with an investigation into former Tallahassee mayor and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum’s decision to accept gifts while on a trip with a local lobbyist in 2016.

Gillum’s attorney, Barry Richard, told reporters Friday that an administrative-law judge would likely hear the case in the next 30 to 45 days.

“We’re going to have a full evidentiary hearing before an independent judge. It’ll be open to the public, and everybody can decide for themselves,” Richard said following a closed-door hearing at the Florida First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. “There for sure will be no settlement.”

Erwin Jackson, the Tallahassee businessman who filed the complaint against Gillum, told reporters that the commission found probable cause to investigate five out of six possible ethics violations, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“This is a victory for the good ones,” Jackson said.

The complaint focuses on trips Gillum took with long-time friend and lobbyist Adam Corey prior to his run for governor. In 2016, Gillum traveled to New York with Corey and two FBI agents posing as land developers to investigate Tallahassee government corruption. Text messages released by the ethics commission in October show that Gillum was aware that one of the men he believed was a land developer bought his ticket to a Broadway production of Hamilton, as well as paying for a boat tour around the Statue of Liberty.

Gillum, however, maintains that he believed his brother purchased the ticket, the cost of which he later reimbursed.

The ethics commission is also looking into an August 2016 trip Gillum took to Costa Rica with his wife, which was arranged by Corey after he won a week-long stay in a luxury villa. Gillum has long maintained that he reimbursed Corey for the cost of the villa, but invoices released along with the text messages on Tuesday indicate Corey’s accountant never billed him for the expense.

The FBI has not filed any charges against Gillum in the probe, which led to the filing of bribery and racketeering charges against former Tallahassee city commissioner Scott Maddox in December.

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