August 30, 2018

One sticky problem for Gillum

Those who have covered urban politics know there is nothing unusual about over-close relationships between developers and local politicians, but this issue is now lurking behind the campaign of Mayr Gillum for governor of Florida. One question that arises: given the commonness of this particular form of activity, why did the FBI chose to investigate it in a Florida city run by a newly elected black mayor?

Slate -   According to the Tallahassee [Democrat], three undercover FBI agents showed up in Tallahassee back in 2015, posing as out-of-town developers interested in pursuing opportunities in the state capital. The agents then spent the next year hobnobbing with local business leaders and cozying up to local officials before disappearing in early 2017. That summer, the FBI delivered subpoenas to the city government requesting thousands of pages of documents dating back to 2012. More subpoenas soon followed, as did the apparently accidental unsealing of a search warrant targeting a city commissioner and his long-time business associate. While it’s impossible to say how far along the investigation is today, judging by the number of local businessmen spotted last month going in and out of a local federal courtroom with their white-collar attorneys in tow, indictments could be on the horizon.

So where does Gillum fit into all this?

Gillum was elected mayor in 2014 and has held city office since 2003, when at 23 he became the youngest person ever to win a seat on the Tallahassee City Commission. Spending a decade and a half in local government means crossing paths with a wide array of movers and shakers, all with their own interests and any of whom could, theoretically, be caught up in the probe. But Gillum’s most direct connection to this case is through a local businessman and lobbyist, Adam Corey, who appears to have introduced the FBI agents to a number of key players in the city, including Gillum. It’s unclear whether Corey believed the agents were developers when he made the introductions or if he was knowingly working with these undercover feds. 

No comments: