OCTAVIO JONES | Times Florida Gubernatorial Democratic Andrew Gillum gives a speech to a packed crowd during the Florida Democratic Party rally held at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida on Monday, October 22, 2018.
Undercover FBI agents were the ones who gave Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum a ticket to the Broadway show Hamilton during a trip to New York City in 2016, according to a trove of records given to the ethics commission and released to the public today.
Text messages between Gillum and former lobbyist Adam Corey, who arranged outings with undercover agents looking into city corruption, were among more than 100 pages of records Corey gave the ethics commission, which is investigating trips to Costa Rica and New York that Gillum took in 2016.
Corey's lawyer, Chris Kise, released the records today, just two weeks before the election, because the state ethics commission issued a subpoena for the records just last week.
The text messages show that, contrary to what his campaign has said, Gillum knew the tickets came from "Mike Miller," who was an FBI agent posing as a developer looking into city corruption.
"Mike Miller and the crew have tickets for us for Hamilton tonight at 8 p.m.," Corey texted Gillum on Aug. 10, 2016.
"Awesome news about Hamilton," Gillum replied, according to the records.
The texts appear to refute what Gillum's campaign said just days after his unlikely win in the Democratic primary for Florida governor.
The campaign said in a Sept. 4 press release that Gillum's brother, Marcus, gave him the ticket.
"After the trip, Mayor Gillum learned Marcus Gillum had obtained that ticket in a swap with Adam Corey for a concert ticket," the campaign said.
Gillum's campaign repeated today that the ticket came from his brother.
"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," Gillum said in a statement. "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."
Questions about Gillum's trip to New York have dogged the candidate since the primary, with his Republican opponent, former Congressman Ron DeSantis, repeatedly linking Gillum to the FBI probe.
During Sunday's debate, DeSantis asked Gillum about the tickets.
"Did you pay for the Hamilton tickets?" DeSantis asked.
Gillum avoided directly answering the question.
"First of all, I am a grown man," Gillum replied. "My wife and I take vacations and we pay for our own vacations ... I don't take free trips from anybody. I'm a hard-working person, I know that may not fit your description of what you think people like me do, but I've worked hard for everything that I've gotten in my life."
Gillum and Corey have known each other since college, and the two were friends until last year, when Gillum said he wasn't speaking to him any more.
Kise said Corey was issued a subpoena for records on Oct. 15. The ethics complaint was filed against Gillum in June, and Gillum met with investigators in early September.
Kise wrote that Corey was releasing the records today because they were going to become public anyway.
"As reflected by those records, no criminal activity took place," Kise wrote. "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."
This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.
Times/Herald staff writer Steve Contorno contributed to this report.