Today, CNN’s Brian Stelter announced the network had just hired former Florida Democratic nominee for governor Andrew Gillum as a contributor:
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 29, 2019
That decision is a little surprising because just three days ago CNN reported that an ethics case against Gillum would proceed after “the state ethics commission found probable cause at a hearing Friday that he had accepted gifts.”
At the hearing, the Florida ethics commission advocate considered the facts of the case and “recommended no probable cause on the account for soliciting gifts, and she recommended probable cause on the remaining counts, which were accepting gifts that exceeded $100,” Richard said.
Florida law bans state officials from accepting gifts worth more than $100.
Now that the Flordia Ethics Commission has ruled there is probable cause that he accepted the gifts, an evidentiary hearing which will take place in 45-60 days. This is quite a blow to Gillum who claimed last year that the entire story was a smear by his opponents intended to “reinforce, frankly, stereotypes about black men.” In light of the decision by the ethics commission, does Gillum plan to accuse the Administrative Law Judge handling his hearing of being a white supremacist? Why would CNN hire this person knowing there are serious, outstanding questions about his credibility? Even Slate sees the problem:
A Tallahassee lobbyist named Adam Corey befriended an [FBI] agent posing as a developer named Mike Miller. In 2016, Corey took Gillum on a luxury vacation to Costa Rica and, while there, scheduled a meeting between Gillum and Miller. Later, Corey, Miller, and Gillum took a trip to New York City. Corey booked Gillum a hotel room and told him that Miller and his “crew” had obtained tickets to Hamilton. In addition to seeing the play, the three men took a catered boat tour around the Statue of Liberty.
It now appears the FBI was primarily focused on Tallahassee Commissioner Scott Maddox, who was indicted in December for bribery, extortion, fraud, and racketeering. The Costa Rica and New York trips, however, remain damaging for Gillum. Florida law requires state officials to report all gifts from lobbyists that have a value greater than $100. Gillum says he paid for his share of the Costa Rica trip, and that he thought his brother had procured the Hamilton tickets. But receipts suggest that he underpaid for the Costa Rica vacation, unless he somehow got the world’s greatest deal on a luxury villa. Moreover, text messages demonstrate that he knew Miller, and not his brother, paid for the Hamilton tickets. (Corey released these damning records just before the 2018 election after he fell out with Gillum and hired a GOP operative to defend him against the FBI probe.)
To be really clear, here’s how Gillum learned about the tickets according to a report in Politico:
“Just checking in with you. Mike Miller and the crew have tickets for us for Hamilton tonight at 8 p.m.,” Corey texted Gillum on Aug. 10, 2016.
Gillum’s text message reply: “awesome news about Hamilton.”
So even though he was told Mike Miller (the FBI agent posing as a developer) had bought the tickets, Gillum claims he believed his brother bought his ticket.
All of this became an issue when a Florida businessman filed an ethics complaint against Gillum in 2017 on the grounds that Gillum had failed to declare these lobbyist gifts, including the Hamilton tickets. So about a month into his new gig at CNN, Gillum will be explaining to an Administrative Law Judge why he failed to report these gifts. Clearly, CNN saw all of this coming and decided to hire him anyway. Maybe they’ve decided credibility is overrated?