Gillum speaks out about FBI probe into city of Tallahassee

By: Mariel Carbone
June 23, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- After news broke that the FBI has issued two subpoenas- one to the City of Tallahassee and one to the Community Redevelopment Agency- Mayor Andrew Gillum is speaking out.

Gillum said he is aware of the situation and spoke to the FBI just last week.

In a statement released Friday, Gillum said:

“Last week the FBI approached me about several people and businesses here in Tallahassee. I spoke with them, and told them they could expect both the City and my personal cooperation with their investigation. They assured me I was not the focus of an investigation, and that they would be moving quickly with their work."

Although the circumstances of the investigation aren't clear, the subpoenas demand documents regarding any communication with about two dozen business entities, developers and businessmen and women in Tallahassee. Notables include Adam Corey, the developer behind the city backed restaurant The Edison and Gillum's former
campaign treasurer; JT Burnette, the developer behind Hotel Duval; Paige Carter-Smith, the Executive Director of the Downtown Improvement Authority; and Kim Rivers, CEO of the medical marijuana dispensary Trulieve.

WCTV has reached out to several of the names on the list, but none have responded.

Neither the FBI or U.S. Attorney's office are commenting.

The lack of information has some local leaders wondering what sparked the investigation in the first place.

"I don't know why. I'm curious myself," said County Commissioner and CRA Board Member Mary Ann Lindley. "If it's the political players who are of interest or if it is something to do with federal tax grants or federal relationships with the developers."

Gillum noted that if any corruption is discovered it will be dealt with.

“I take any allegation of corruption in the City of Tallahassee very seriously, and I am committed to rooting it out in its entirety. If corruption has taken place in our city, those parties must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We will not tolerate, enable, or turn a blind eye to corruption.

The investigation comes just weeks after the state legislature debated if CRA's across the state were spending tax dollars efficiently and appropriately. CRA’s oversee designated areas of the community. They’re funded through local tax dollars, specifically through tax increment funding. The property value of the area is determined on a fixed date. Then, when property values go up for that area, any tax revenue above that fixed rate goes straight into the CRA fund,
which is in turn used to fund projects in the designated CRA area.

Specifically in Tallahassee there are two CRA's which include the Downtown CRA and the Frenchtown-Southside CRA. Projects involving CRA’s include the demolition of the former homeless shelter, the Big Bend Cares project, and the recent sale of the Bloxham and Firestone buildings on Gaines Street.

The CRA's are intended to help blighted areas and are set for a specific time frame. In the City's case, that time frame is 30 years, which we are about half way through.

Commissioner Lindley said she welcomes the scrutiny of the investigation.

"This investigation may show some holes, some problems that we need to fix. And I'm good with that," she said.

Gillum said the City will fully comply with the FBI.

“While no one likes the City being under the FBI’s scrutiny, in light of what is happening nationally, we must remember that the FBI is here to protect us and we must aid them in their work. They have my full support and cooperation as the Mayor, and the full cooperation of the City of Tallahassee.”

A grand jury is set to convene on July 11.



By: Mariel Carbone; WCTV Eyewitness News
June 22, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)—Federal authorities are investigating city development deals that involve some of the “movers and shakers” in Tallahassee.

The FBI, handing out two subpoenas. One, to the City of Tallahassee and the other to the Community Redevelopment Agency. The documents demand any communication, bids for proposals, applications, records and more from nearly two dozen business entities or people in Tallahassee.

Among that list are Paige Carter-Smith, Executive Director of the Downtown Improvement Authority; Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve; JT Burnette, a local developer who has worked on projects including Hotel Duval; and Adam Corey, developer of the City backed restaurant The Edison, as well as Mayor Andrew Gillum’s former campaign treasurer.

WCTV has reached out to several of those named on the list, but have yet to hear back. However, Gillum’s campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan, released this statement saying, "We expect the City to respond fully and completely to the subpoena and we hope the situation is resolved quickly."

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum released the following statement Friday:

“Last week the FBI approached me about several people and businesses here in Tallahassee. I spoke with them, and told them they could expect both the City and my personal cooperation with their investigation. They assured me I was not the focus of an investigation, and that they would be moving quickly with their work.

“I take any allegation of corruption in the City of Tallahassee very seriously, and I am committed to rooting it out in its entirety. If corruption has taken place in our city, those parties must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We will not tolerate, enable, or turn a blind eye to corruption.

“While no one likes the City being under the FBI’s scrutiny, in light of what is happening nationally, we must remember that the FBI is here to protect us and we must aid them in their work. They have my full support and cooperation as the Mayor, and the full cooperation of the City of Tallahassee.”

The CRA is made up of the City Commission as well as several Leon County Commissioners. The purpose of the agency is to use tax payer dollars to reinvest in the community. Some of the notable projects done by the CRA include the redevelopment of Gaines Street, the demolition of the old shelter and the sale of several properties near Cascades Park.

Commissioner Scott Maddox, who is on the CRA board, released this statement to WCTV, saying, “As with the rest of the City Commission, I’ve been briefed on the requests and I have assurance from the City Attorney and staff that they are doing all they can to comply. I have confidence in their ability to handle this with the professionalism the City of Tallahassee is known for and I’m sure they will remain in contact with the media and our constituents as to the progress of these requests.”

City of Tallahassee Attorney Lewis E. Shelley also released a statement and said, "The Federal Bureau of Investigation has requested Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and City of Tallahassee records. Other than the request for information by subpoena, the City has no further information on this matter. City staff is fully cooperating and has begun gathering the requested records."

Both a spokesperson for the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

This is not the first time CRA’s have been under fire. In the most recent legislative session a bill in both the House and the Senate looked to eventually abolish CRA’s because of mishandling of funds in other parts of the state. Those bills did not pass.

CRA’s oversee designated areas of the community. They’re funded through local tax dollars, specifically through tax increment funding. The property value of the area is determined on a fixed date. Then, when property values go up for that area, any tax revenue above that fixed rate goes straight into the CRA fund, which is in turn used to fund projects in the designated CRA area.

A Grand Jury hearing regarding the matter is set for July 11.

To view a copy of the subpoenas, click HERE. Select contact information has been redacted by WCTV.



By: Associated Press; WCTV Eyewitness News
June 22, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Federal authorities have launched an investigation into redevelopment deals that involve business owners and developers as well as an ally of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

A federal subpoena asks for records, texts and emails between the City of Tallahassee and the Community Redevelopment Agency, involving business owners, including Adam Corey, the former campaign treasurer of Mayor Gillum.

Both the city and the agency have been ordered to turn over records to a federal grand jury in July.

Amy Alexander, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Florida, said she had no public information about the investigation.

Gillum is one of several Democrats seeking to run for Florida governor in 2018. Campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan, released this statement, and said "We expect the City to respond fully and completely to the subpoena and we hope the situation is resolved quickly."

City Attorney Lewis E. Shelley said in a statement Thursday, "The Federal Bureau of Investigation has requested Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and City of Tallahassee records. Other than the request for information by subpoena, the City has no further information on this matter. City staff is fully cooperating and has begun gathering the requested records."

Commissioner Scott Maddox has also weighed in on the situation and said, “As with the rest of the City Commission, I’ve been briefed on the requests and I have assurance from the City Attorney and staff that they are doing all they can to comply. I have confidence in their ability to handle this with the professionalism the City of Tallahassee is known for and I’m sure they will remain in contact with the media and our constituents as to the progress of these requests.”

Notables on the subpoena include Adam Corey, the developer of The Edison and former campaign treasure for Gillum; Paige Carter-Smith, Executive Director of the Downtown Improvement Authority; Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve; and JT Burnette, a local developer who has worked on projects including Hotel Duval.

To view a copy of the subpoenas, click HERE. Select contact information has been redacted by WCTV.



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