Tallahassee Reports has confirmed through sources that on Friday, February 12, 2016, Mayor Andrew Gillum, with his Chief of Staff Dustin Daniels, flew to Tampa on a private plane owned by Southport Financial Services for a political meeting.
The purpose of the meeting was to give Mayor Andrew Gillum a venue to tell “his story” to well connected politico’s. The meeting was held at the Capital Grille in Tampa where Alex Sink and Charlie Crist attended.
Southport Financial Services is a multi-family housing developer based in Tampa, Florida and has built or acquired a substantial number of market rental housing projects and developed over 90 Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties.
The group has ties to Tallahassee.
On August 28, 2013 the City Commission, with Andrew Gillum, voted 4-0 (Commissioner Scott Maddox absent) t0 authorize use of $150,000 allocated by the City Commission to support affordable housing tax credit applications to include $37,500 for developers, which included Southport Financial.
TR confirmed through FAA records that Southport Financial does own an interest in a private airplane.
Also on the plane was Adam Corey, who at the time was a registered lobbyist with the City of Tallahassee and was doing business with the City of Tallahassee through a signed contract involving the Edison restaurant.
Corey’s business, Cascades Holdings, was listed in the two federal subpoenas recently delivered to city hall.
Sources say that the trip was facilitated by Corey and Peter Leach, who is a principle with Southport Financial Services and is active in Democratic political circles.
A search of publicly available donor records show that Leach has donated $21,000 to mostly Democratic candidates since 2014. The two exceptions are a pair of $1,000 donations to former Republican state Senator Frank Artiles and Republican state Senator Jack Latvala.
Mr. Leach has not returned TR’s phone calls.
Questions about the travel arrangement?
There are several questions that remained unanswered.
Was any city business being conducted on the trip? If yes, what laws or rules regulate the potential conflicts of the travel arrangement and any meeting that took place? If no, was Dustin Daniels, a city employee, being paid with public monies to attend a political meeting?
Who paid for the flight? Did Mayor Andrew Gillum and Dustin Daniels write personal checks to cover the travel expenses of a political trip?
There are laws addressing public officials accepting gifts from lobbyists and entities doing business with government. Which rules apply and is there any documentation that explains how the expenses were handled in this case?
TR has submitted information requests in an attempt to get answers to some of these questions.