The FBI probe that loomed over Andrew Gillum throughout much of the 2018 Florida governor’s election campaign has led to a 44-count indictment against a Tallahassee commissioner who once headed Florida’s Democratic party.
On Wednesday, prosecutors charged Commissioner Scott Maddox with bribery, bank fraud, extortion, racketeering and other crimes. The indictment alleged that Maddox and political consultant Jane Paige Carter-Smith had cooked up a lucrative conspiracy to extort several businesses.
Missing from the indictment was Gillum, however, who was serving as Tallahassee mayor at the time of the investigation.
Gillum, who lost the governor’s race to former GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis in November, was forced to defend himself against repeated claims by his opponent that he was the target of an FBI probe into corruption in Tallahassee government. The Florida Democrat insisted this wasn’t the case.
According to Slate, “it appears that Gillum may have been the victim of a political hit job by a Republican lawyer who represented one of the players” at the center of the investigation. The Tallahassee mayor’s indirect ties to the probe stemmed from his former friendship with a local lobbyist named Adam Corey, who befriended an undercover FBI agent posing as a developer named Mike Miller in 2015.
The trio vacationed in Costa Rica and then New York, during which Gillum enjoyed tickets to the hit Broadway show “Hamilton.” He insisted he paid his way on both vacations and that his brother had purchased the “Hamilton” tickets. That wasn’t the case for Corey.
Gillum’s association with the lobbyist raised questioned about whether he illegally accepted lavish gifts from the so-called “developer.” The FBI also also looked into a plan hatched by Miller to pass a measure that would grant Miller taxpayer money to develop land, which he asked Corey to help him with.
The FBI found zero evidence that Gillum was involved in either scheme.
The revelation comes after Corey’s attorney, Chris Kise, leaked hundreds of pages from the Florida Commission on Ethics’ inquiry revealing Gillum’s questionable relationship with the lobbyist.
“They led to speculation that the Costa Rica and New York City trips may be at the center of the FBI probe,” Slate explained.
Kise was later appointed to DeSantis’ transition team, prompting Democrats to speculate whether that the attorney had released the documents in exchange for a future job with the governor-elect. However, there’s no direct evidence the two colluded to smear Gillum.
Still, the FBI investigation is believed to be a major factor in why Gillum narrowly lost the election to DeSantis. The Florida mayor was defeated by 32,463 votes out of more than 8.2 million cast.