Gillum’s “Sponsored Content” Featured Gubernatorial Campaign Donors

Gillum’s “Sponsored Content” Featured Gubernatorial Campaign Donors

Campaign reports reveal that two of the businesses featured in Tallahassee Democrat articles, that were paid for by Mayor Andrew Gillum’s office, were also major donors to Andrew Gillum’s campaign for governor.

TR has previously reported that Mayor Andrew Gillum’s office negotiated with the Tallahassee Democrat to publish ten stories favorable to Andrew Gillum’s “Friendly Workplace Initiative.” The ten stories were written by Tallahassee Democrat journalist TaMaryn Waters and highlighted Gillum’s “Family Friendly Workplace” initiative he began in 2015.

Gillum announced his candidacy for governor on March 1st, 2017. In May 2017, the Mayor’s Office was billed $10,000 for the stories.

A review of campaign reports shows two businesses that were deemed to have family friendly workplaces were also campaign donors to Gillum’s gubernatorial political action committee, Forward Florida.

TR is still waiting on additional public records associated with this issue. To date, no records show that the businesses featured in the Tallahassee Democrat series were aware that the Mayor’s Office was paying to have the articles published.

On March 8th, 2017, Sam Rogers and Bart Gunter, who are affiliated with Rogers, Gunter, Vaughn Insurance, each donated $5,000 to Forward Florida.

An article financed by the Mayor’s Office featuring Rogers Gunter Vaughn Insurance workplace practices was published in the Tallahassee Democrat on April 3rd, 2017.

On April 1st, 2017, the Tallahassee Democrat featured Mainline Information Systems as a family friendly workplace. The CEO of Mainline, Rick Kearney, donated $10,000 to Forward Florida on January 31, 2018.

Kearney has previously made campaign donations to Gillum’s local races.

28 Responses to "Gillum’s “Sponsored Content” Featured Gubernatorial Campaign Donors"

  1. It is a situation where the mayor surrounded himself with a bunch of people who would sell their political influence. We should at least keep our eye on him until he is out of office and it is understandable that this kid just followed the others. He was friends with Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit Mayor and has never had a real job so he only knows one thing… Sure don’t need him running the state.

  2. Tom,
    As a ‘marketing guy’ your job is to help your client get media exposure and increase their business. As a public servant (Gillum), that job, as an elected official, is to serve his constituents. Not secretly pay the newspaper to promote his run for governor. Not pay the newspaper to promote his political donor’s businesses. He’s using our tax money to curry favor with donors to extract even more donations.

    You said “I can tell you the practice…what occurred technically is no issue”. Well Tom, I could not disagree more (respectfully). Technically, he is cheating the tax payers. Technically, the Democratic is deceiving their readers. Technology, Gillum attempted to create editorial content (earned media) by essentially paying for it, but in this case our tax dollars paid for it. So Technically, I paid to promote the program you chaired. Secret deals between private business and the local government are rarely technically ‘no issue’.

    But if you are referring to the Democratic’s practice of taking money to write a positive article for its readers (advertorial), technically, I find issue with the way that was done here. If the Paper wants money to write these types of articles, that’s fine, just let the readers know it was PAID to to it. Saying it was a ‘partnership’ is even more misleading. This was no partnership… it’s simply ‘pay for play’. Sorry Tom (this may seem like a low blow, but not intended as such), your work may be important to you, but at what cost is your name worth?


  3. Thanks for adding your firsthand knowledge, Tom.
    However, the actions by the local rag, colluding with Dustin Daniels, subverted your intentions, however pure.
    I suspect Daniels knew long before the public of Gillum’s desire to run for governor, and schemed this idea with the newsroom chief in order to feather his cap. If they had paid for it with campaign funds (Soros’ money), and properly labeled the content, I would simply roll my eyes and move on.
    But taxpayer funds were used. Criminal? This is way more than just the appearance of conflict of interest.
    Billy’s attempt to explain it? Nobody is buying it. That poor guy is in way over his head. I wonder if the FBI might be visiting 277 N. Magnolia Drive soon for an “interview?”
    And since Steve broke most of the FBI news that they cribbed from, he should hand that Green Eyeshade award to Tallahassee Reports!

  4. Tom,
    You are clearly missing the point. I am a tax payer in Tallahassee. My tax money is being used to promote Gillum and his pet projects (one of which you apparently chaired). Further, this is classic ‘pay for play’. Gillum pays the Democrat for 10 favorable articles to use as propaganda for his Governor’s campaign and the paper takes the tax money from the Mayor’s office. And the articles promote his donor’s businesses as well…. getting deep here…. Pictures get cropped…. news standards fall, public get ripped off and deceived.

    I’m sure you would not have invested your time and efforts in a program you thought to be of importance. But I have a different project I find important and so does your neighbor…. The program is probably not the problem. It’s everything else.

    Something did occur. And it’s time for it to stop.

    1. Pay for play? Look at the newly awaded construction contracts in Leon Schools! Look who gave to Rocky Hanna and now has a lucrative construction contract. Somebody that also coachef at Leon High for Rocky.

      1. Someone who was also a famous QB at FSU? I was scratching my head when I heard he was in construction.

        1. Is the same famous QB that did not get a contract from supt.Pons for Griffin Middle School? His company became a main chapter in Mr. Hanna’s famous book of fiction. Wonder if he was a co- author with Rocky.

      1. John,

        I understand. I guess my point is the program that many of us worked so hard on – in an effort to improve opportunities for families – driven by by the private sector has great value. Private citizens, form every walk of life and industry, worked hard to develop a program that encourages business to take steps to support families AND do better business.

        For once this was the business community mentoring and leading the business community. Not some clunky government program with layer upon layer of bureaucracy and loads of money.

        I do understand your accusations. Everyone in this stream of feedback has made that clear. As a marketing guy, I can tell you the practice…what occurred technically is no issue. Media outlets have sponsored / partnered with programs..and those same programs have purchased advertising space to promote the same program. It in itself is not unusual.

        I just hate to see the work of private business and volunteers get tarnished in all of this. The program is important.

        Thanks for hearing me out. And to be very clear – I get the main point. Hope everyone has a great week. November will be here very soon and perhaps we can all exhale deeply.

        Side note: I don’t often comment on this particular website…does everyone generally use first names or an alias only?

        Tom Derzypolski

        1. I think the core of the problem is the blurred lines between marketing and journalism. Traditionally, one of the missions of the fourth estate was to keep tabs on those who governed. The “old timers” had a strict code of ethics and practices to prevent influence or the appearance of influence. This has evolved due to economics, the proliferation of online media and other factors. The Democrat initiative, of which you were a part, was a marketing one, pure and simple. I personally do not think that you or the editors had anything but good intent by supporting this marketing initiative. However, how do we know that the selection of the companies to be featured was fair? We as readers don’t. The coverage these companies received was what in the PR world is known as earned media, name placement in articles which can be monetized when weighed against page views, subscription rates, cost of advertising for the same, etc. These companies got a benefit that can be monetized, and the selection of these companies seems to have been influenced by the Mayor’s office, who by the way, paid for the coverage with taxpayer dollars. Therefore, the Mayor, and any staff who are also running for office, created a perception that donors could receive this earned media, paid for by the taxpayers, in exchange for political contributions. Again, do I think that was your intent or the intent of the Democrat? Like I said, no I don’t. I think you, and others with good intent, got the wool pulled over your eyes. It is important that Democrat take a step back and evaluate what they are doing instead of launching ad hominem attacks on TR’s publisher and immediately going on the defensive. Everyone makes mistakes, its how the mistakes are handled that matters. I believe this was a mistake and people need to be more cautious and thoughtful moving forward.
          And to your side note, yes, individuals post anonymously/first name because sometimes talking about or pointing out issues of corruption can result in retaliation.

        2. Welcome Tom!
          I see the value you place in a program or process you can seperate from the dirty politics and find honerable goodness in.
          Reading between the lines I sense you have been a lifetime Democratic down the ballot voter and have recently began to question the wisdom of your politics.
          Again welcome make yourself at home.
          In reply to the naming of commenters here some may be employed by liberal companies and may suffer for their political views.
          All should feel welcome.

  5. Steve –

    I chaired this important initiative. It put the power in the hands of small business to impact positive change within this community – for families. Small business is where I believe true, lasting change, can occur. I respect the important role of the news media, especially in the local community, as a watchdog. While this response will not make some on this stream of comments happy – there is no there….there in this case. I am a conservative, small business owner, Republican, Christian, Veteran….yada yada. In addition, I very much understand and appreciate the importance of ethics in government and private business. I’m just here to say I had a front-row seat for this and the depiction in this story is simply implying something occurred….that did not occur.

    I’m not here defending local government or individual politicians. I operate my life with respect and a desire to do good. I don’t harbor anger and I am not frustrated inside. I realize our great country allows us to vote in….and vote out people we have differences with. I’m simply trusting out justice system and waiting for my next opportunity to vote.

    Thank you for stepping up to serve this community in the past. You are willing and able to lead and the sacrifice that requires should not be overlooked. You care about this community and I respect that. We have spoken about your personal style and approach – and while I differ in my approach….I appreciate that your intentions are good.

    Since I ended up in the paper today…sigh….over a program I believe to be of great importance to the small business community, I wanted to jump in here and provide some comments for consideration.

    This is submitted with respect,

    Tom Derzypolski

    1. It’s a shame too because I was normal until one Sunday morning when I curled up next to the fireplace with my coffee and read the “life changing journalism” (their words not mine) of the Tallahassee Democrat.

      1. That phrase was derived from the many dozens of veteran journalists kicked to the curb by Gannett’s hatchetman: Gabordick. Their lives were all changed, for sure. And it hasn’t even helped the local rag’s bottom line. They haven’t been able to rent out any of their empty space, can’t even stabilize circulation (let alone grow it), and their stock has tanked 35% in the last 2 1/2 years while the Dow is up 58% in the same time frame, whoops! That screams mismanagement right there! Too bad Trump can’t FIRE them all.

  6. So let me get this straight. The TD responds to this but not Cropped Photo-Gate. That says it all right there.

  7. Governance, Inc., Carter-Smith and Harold Knowles weren’t bad enough? Has yet to refund the indicted Knowles contribution.

  8. This is “organized crime” and blatant theft from taxpayers. Gillum is running his campaign PR agenda out of the mayor’s office at taxpayers expense (again). And we wonder why we are #1 IN CRIME IN FLORIDA?!

    Mr. Gillum needs to reimburse the City Of Tallahassee for this followed by an ethic’s complaint, and criminal investigation…(preferably not by Sheriff McNeil this time).

    Gillum has no moral or ethical compass and it is past embarrassing.

    Citizens should attend the next city meeting with every gender, religion, socioeconomic level, political party, and ethnicity represented and all say enough! Resign now!

    1. When Rocky Hanna put together the notebook that he he submitted to state and federal authorities, later admitting to the investigating school board attorney Hank Coxe that he “knew of no wrongdoing” and purposely wrote misleading and false statements for each section, cost taxpayers $600,000 to investigate Outrageous! Ethics violations!

    1. Gillum and Scott Maddox manipulated a huge insurance contract at the last minute that was to be awarded to Arthur Gallagher and was the staff’s recommendation that went to Rogers and Gunter, several months ago…now we know why?

      Maddox and Gillum are desperate for campaign contributions and Scott Maddox is even using his campaign contributions for legal fees. It is to the point where these two are a danger to the public at large. They are literally desperate and the have the attitude of the devil may care with ethical boundaries.

    2. I tried to obtain homeowners insurance thru Rogers/Gunter back in 2012 because I had a good business relationship with some of the older family members that started Rogers/Gunter in my first career. My home is of an older 1950’s vintage and well maintained over the years. They refused to consider writing a policy stating that they have an age limit on the homes they will insure. No quote, no looking at my home, no consideration whatsoever. Now they are a private business so I support their choice to operate under any rules they want.
      But they were kind of rude and condescending in the manner they spoke to me. Poor customer service skills in delivering the no answer to a potential customer. I also felt like I was speaking to a call center in India rather than anyone in the local business. Now that I know the younger generation are also dirty Mayor Andy supporters I consider myself blessed for that denial of coverage back in 2012. I feel the business would likely be a pain in the rear to file a legitimate claim with.
      Thank you for allowing me to share that 7 year old annoyance. There now I feel better 🙂

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