Florida Politics

Sloppy redaction shows large deposit into candidate’s account. Reason: Pay the bills.

When Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum released some records Tuesday related to two trips he took with a lobbyist in 2016, he was trying to clear the air around an FBI investigation that has clouded his campaign since before he became the Democratic nominee for Florida governor.

But the campaign, which uploaded several documents after Gillum met with a state ethics investigator Tuesday, released a poorly redacted printout of his bank statement among some invoices and receipts for Gillum’s trips to New York City and Costa Rica that year. The bank statement included a $15,000 deposit into his personal checking account. On the same page and not redacted was an entry showing a $400 cash withdrawal that the campaign says was cash used to pay for lodging in Costa Rica.

The Herald/Times asked Tuesday and multiple times Wednesday for an explanation of the large deposit. Gillum’s campaign did not provide an explanation until shortly after this story was published. It then released a statement saying the deposit “was a transfer from the mayor’s savings account into his joint checking account with his wife, an account they used to pay their bills.”

About an hour earlier, the campaign released a statement from Barry Richard, the lawyer who is representing Gillum in the state ethics probe that is examining the trips. The statement from Richard did not address the deposit or its amount: “Mayor Gillum is not the focus of the investigation, and he’s been transparent in releasing to the public all information available regarding the false claims against him.”

But Richard said later Wednesday night the deposit was a transfer from Gillum’s savings account to his checking account. It never came up during Gillum’s meeting with the ethics investigator, he added.

When the bank statement was released, it appeared that the campaign intended to redact all of the transactions except for those ones relating to the trip. But the redactions didn’t completely cover most of the entries, allowing most of the transactions in his checking account between April 25 and May 23, 2016 to be read.

The deposit came during the FBI investigation into public corruption in Tallahassee and just days before Gillum took a now-scrutinized overseas trip with his friend and lobbyist, Adam Corey.

On May 5, less than a week after the deposit, Gillum went to Costa Rica with his wife, Corey, and several other couples.

His campaign said Tuesday in releasing the documents that Gillum paid cash to someone in the group for his and his wife’s share of a villa. The campaign has not said who received the money. Corey’s lawyer has said that he did not receive payment from Gillum.