Conservative strategist Mattie Duppler on Wednesday said that text messages showing Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), who is running for governor of Florida, was given a ticket to “Hamilton” in 2016 are the least of his campaign’s concerns amid ongoing allegations.
“I think this is the least damning of evidence that we’ve seen,” Duppler, the founder and president of Forward Strategies, told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on “Rising.”
Duppler is also a senior fellow for fiscal policy at the National Taxpayers Union and a former House Republican leadership aide.
“The New York Times said that Gillum is an avatar of corruption in Tallahassee. I mean there are many, many instances in which his behavior is extremely dubious for someone who is in charge,” she continued.
“The fact that he has been paid tens of thousands of dollars by lobbyist friends, the fact that he has been paying rent to the same lobbyist friend for some of his campaign headquarters, the fact that one of his buddies has gotten $2 million or so in public dollars to continue to develop places in Tallahassee,” she said.
“That to me, because this race is so close, that to me is certainly something that could sink him because in these races we see a lot of anti-incumbency fervor, a lot of people trying to separate themselves from what’s happening in Washington, having a corruption case against you, something that looks just like politics of old is certainly not going to play well for your voters,” she said.
Duppler’s comments come after records revealed that undercover FBI agents gave the Tallahassee mayor a ticket to “Hamilton” in 2016, contradicting his campaign’s previous explanation.
The documents were originally reported by the Tampa Bay Times and were forwarded to The Hill.
Text messages between Gillum and former lobbyist Adam Corey, who set up meetings with the agents, according to the Times, show Gillum knew the tickets came from “Mike Miller.”
Gillum said in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday that the records support him against corruption allegations.
“These records vindicate and add more evidence that at every turn I was paying my own way or was with my family, for all trips, including picking up tickets from my brother, Marcus, who was with a group of his own friends,” Gillum wrote.
The New York Times published a story last week highlighting an FBI probe into corruption charges in Gillum’s Tallahassee government. The report describes Gillum as an ambitious political insider with alliances placed with power players.
“I don’t tend to take on journalists because they play an important role, but I think it’s important to be able to tell the truth in that process as well,” Gillum told Hill.TV when asked about the piece.
“Quite frankly, The New York Times, as respected an outlet as it may be, ain’t what the voters who I need are reading,” he later added.
— Julia Manchester