Mayor Andrew Gillum got a ticket to “Hamilton” in New York City from an undercover FBI agent, a fact he and his campaign failed to divulge in previous explanations about the trip, according to text messages released by an attorney for Gillum’s one-time close friend, Adam Corey.
Chris Kise, a Tallahassee attorney representing Corey, released 150 pages of documents involving Gillum’s travels in 2016 to New York City and Costa Rica. In a news release, he said he turned over the same documents last week to comply with a subpoena from the Florida Commission on Ethics, which is investigating the trips.
The revelations have the potential to politically damage Gillum at the same time voters in Florida are casting early ballots in the governor’s race. Gillum scored a surprise victory in the August primary against several better-funded Democratic challengers and has been out-performing his GOP opponent, former Congressman Ron DeSantis, in recent polling.
In text messages from Aug. 10, 2016, Corey tells Gillum that “Mike Miller” had tickets for a performance of “Hamilton.” Miller was among three undercover FBI agents who were sent to Tallahassee to investigate public corruption starting around the summer of 2015. At the time of the trip, Gillum didn’t know Miller was an undercover agent. While in New York, Gillum met up with his brother, Marcus Gillum, and Corey.
“Mike Miller and the crew have tickets for us for Hamilton tonight at 8 p.m.,” Corey said in a text. “Let me know if you can join us?”
“I can be free by 6 p.m., but I do have mtgs tomorrow as well,” Gillum responded. “Awesome news about Hamilton.”
On Tuesday, after the Tampa Bay Times broke the story, Gillum responded by saying the texts cleared him of allegations he didn’t pay his own way during out-of-town trips. He also took the opportunity to attack his GOP rival, former Congressman Ron DeSantis.
“These records vindicate and add more evidence that at every turn I was paying my own way or was with my family, for all trips, including picking up tickets from my brother, Marcus, who was with a group of his own friends. But this isn't about a Broadway show, it's about a sideshow, because Ron DeSantis and his associates have no vision, no healthcare plan, and are running the most false, negative campaign in Florida history. Floridians deserve better."
This photo shows the three men believed to be undercover FBI agents who used aliases and cover stories as part of an investigation in Tallahassee. Pictured from left are Mike Miller, Mike Sweets and Brian Butler. The Democrat decided to blur the physical characteristics of the men after discussions with the FBI. (Photo: Special to the Democrat)
Gillum has been reluctant to discuss the trip to New York. When asked by a Tallahassee Democrat reporter in August 2017 about whether he went to see “Hamilton” or a Mets game in New York and who paid for the tickets, he responded, “I have no knowledge of any of that.” He refused to give a yes or no answer on whether he took part in any of the outings, claiming his time spent with undercover FBI agents was “personal.”
In September, after his improbable primary victory, Gillum told the Washington Post he got the “Hamilton” ticket from his brother, Marcus. Gillum’s lawyer, Barry Richard, gave a similar account in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat.
"I'm sketchy on the details," Gillum told the Post. "All I know is I got handed my ticket by Marcus. We're going to 'Hamilton.' I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had a great time."
Gillum said in the report he assumed at the time that his brother bought the ticket. He said he later learned his ticket had been given to his brother by Corey in exchange for a Jay-Z ticket. Gillum’s campaign told the Post that Gillum didn't know the price of the ticket and never reimbursed anyone for it.
The release by Corey's attorney came two days after Gillum was asked about his relationship with the lobbyist on the debate stage.
Corey-Gillum ethics documents by 10News WTSP on Scribd
"We all have friends that sometimes let us down," Gillum said when CNN's Jake Tapper asked specifically about Corey. "I am not under FBI investigation, and neither is my city government.”
In a statement accompanying the records release, Kise said Corey was attempting "to move on with his life, and to avoid entanglement with the affairs of others."
"As reflected by those records, no criminal activity took place. Mr. Corey seeks, as he has sought in the past, to remove himself from the center of rampant and untoward speculation. Hopefully, disclosure of the actual facts will now permit him to do so, and to move forward with his life and career."