By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 21, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A Tallahassee City Commissioner is facing scrutiny after a compromising photo of him flanked with three alleged FBI agents surfaced.
The Tallahassee Democrat posted the photo on Wednesday, reporting that the photo was taken in Las Vegas. The photo shows Maddox along with Tallahassee businessman J.T. Burnette, two unidentified men and three alleged undercover FBI agents. The group of men are posing around a dwarf in a dress. It's unclear who took the photo or when it was taken.
The photo was published less than a week after the City of Tallahassee was served with a third federal subpoena, requesting communication and documents linked to Maddox and his close business partners. The FBI, delving into development deals in the Capital City.
Maddox has declined to comment on the trip or photo and instead released this statement:
"I continue to follow the City Attorney's advice about commenting or speculating during an open investigation. I have full confidence in our judicial system and await the conclusion of the process," said Maddox.
WCTV has reached out to J.T. Burnette, but has yet to hear back.
Burnette was named in two federal subpoenas served to the city and the Community Redevelopment Agency in July.
Matt Pietryka, an assistant professor for the Political Science Department at Florida State University, has said the photo is not necessarily a deal breaker politically for Maddox, as the public tends to have a short memory.
"The salaciousness of it has much less impact than whether it's something that pops up in the news over and over and over again in a negative light. And so I think this is the kind of thing that pops up and then is quickly forgotten," said Pietryka, who noted the longer the FBI investigation stays in the news cycle. the more problematic it could become.
Maddox has shown interest in running for state Senate in 2020. More recently, he also expressed interest in the possibility of running for Tallahassee Mayor.
Pietryka said the more information released related to the FBI investigation the larger the effects on public perception will be.
"Over time it can reduce trust, which has all sorts of negative ramifications. It reduces people's participation, it can reduce the attention that they're paying to politics. Which makes it even harder to sort out who the good representatives are and who the bad representatives are," he said.
This is the second photo of an elected city official to surface with an FBI agent. Last month, WCTV published a photo of Mayor Andrew Gillum on a boat in New York City with long time friend Adam Corey and alleged undercover FBI agent, Mike Miller. Gillum called that outing a trip with friends.
“I think it’s probably important that I point out I was there for work (with People for the American Way Foundation). I went out with them on personal time. There was no city money spent on that trip, no city business discussed. It was frankly a couple of friends getting together,” said Gillum.
Corey was named in the initial round of subpoenas served, and declined to comment on that photo.