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Lawyer releases more Andrew Gillum documents, but they lack any bombshells

Gubernatorial democratic candidate Andrew Gillum speaks to a packed music center during a town hall at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, on Friday. OCTAVIO JONES | Times

A Tallahassee lawyer released yet another batch of records relating to Mayor Andrew Gillum's trips with a former lobbyist today, but it lacks any of the bombshells that have dominated the storylines during the last two weeks of Gillum's campaign for governor.

The records deal with an afternoon trip to Tampa Gillum took in February 2016, more than a year before he launched his campaign for governor.

The trip was to discuss affordable housing with Tampa developer Peter Leach. While there, Leach also hosted a "meet and greet" with area bigwigs, including former CFO Alex Sink and former Gov. Charlie Crist.

It was one of seven trips Gillum took in 2016 that were arranged or attended by Adam Corey, a former lobbyist and Gillum's former friend. Leach was a client of Corey's at the time. Also on board the flight was Gillum's then-chief of staff, Dustin Daniels, who is running to replace Gillum as mayor.

The records provide little new information beyond what was first reported by Tallahassee Reports last year and followed up in a subsequent Tallahassee Democrat story.

 Gillum's spokesman told the Democrat last year that Gillum met with Leach at his office, and that Gillum paid for the trip with city funds because it constituted city business.

“The mayor was invited by Peter Leach to a meeting at his office to learn about some of the work he was doing to advance wrap-around social services in schools and housing developments,” the mayor's spokesman said. “While visiting Tampa the mayor also met with local political leaders before returning to Tallahassee."

The records, which include emails between Leach, Daniels and Corey going back a year before the trip, do not mention a meeting at Leach's office. Gillum's flight left Tallahassee at 11 a.m. and left Tampa at 5 p.m., records show. The "meet and greet" with Sink and Crist was from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The records instead focus on a planned lunch "meet and greet Tampa donors" at The Capital Grille for Gillum.

The records show Leach was interested in boosting Gillum's profile in the Tampa area, with him helping craft Gillum's written biography before the lunch. Gillum was still more than a year away from launching his campaign for governor.

"This will be the first impression people in the Tampa area will have of him," Leach wrote to Corey and Daniels, "and as he broadens his exposure across the state this bio will gain even more importance as the first impression info about him."

Monday's records dump was the third in a week from Corey's attorney, Chris Kise, a Republican who worked for Gov. Rick Scott's transition team who's been accused by Gillum's campaign of dirty politics in the final two weeks of the governor's race.

Two previous releases revealed that undercover FBI agents might have paid for Gillum's ticket to Hamilton and might have sponsored a campaign fundraiser dinner worth more than $4,000.

Gillum campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan questioned Monday whether Kise was coordinating with the campaign of Gillum's opponent, Republican Ron DeSantis.

“Once again, Chris Kise, one of Rick Scott’s most high profile political hatchet men, is trying to confuse and distract voters with information that has long been public," Burgan said in a statement. "Since Kise has so much to say these days, Florida voters deserve to know whether he’s coordinating with the DeSantis campaign, who’s gotten $60,000 from Kise’s law firm. Is DeSantis going to disclose these Kise document leaks as an in-kind contribution?”

Kise called the allegation he was working with DeSantis' campaign "absurd."

Kise has been turning the records over to the Florida Commission on Ethics, which is looking into a complaint that Gillum received gifts worth more than $100.

While Kise does not need to release the records publicly, he's said he's doing so to take the heat off of Corey, whom he said has been unfairly targeted by the media. Gillum cut ties with Corey last year and has said that Corey violated his trust.

Kise unloaded on the statement from Gillum's campaign, saying that it's Gillum, not Corey, who "has serious criminal and ethical exposure."

"This criminal and ethical exposure explains why Andrew Gillum will not address personally any of the details, as his lawyers have likely counseled him on waiver of his Fifth Amendment rights," Kise said in a statement. "If Andrew Gillum can address the facts about his criminal and ethical violations, then he should address the facts.

"Otherwise those facts regarding Andrew Gillum’s criminal and/or unethical conduct, like all facts, speak for themselves."

Gillum's campaign has declined to answer several questions raised by the records releases, however, and Gillum has dismissed the issues as "made-up FBI controversies."

Tampa Bay Times staff writer Kirby Wilson contributed to this report.