Former Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum has spoken out about the scandal that derailed his political career.
Gillum served as mayor of the Florida city between 2014-2018. He was then the Democratic rival running against Ron DeSantis for Governor of Florida in 2018. Gillum narrowly lost by just 0.4% of the vote.
Many political observers believed he would bounce back from the defeat and attain political office in another capacity.
Then, in March 2020, Gillum was found in a hotel room with two other men. One had turned up and called authorities as he suspected the other man, not Gillum, was overdosing.
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Police found bags containing crystal meth in the room. Gillum appeared inebriated. Pictures later emerged showing Gillum lying on the floor in his own vomit.
Within days, Gillum said he was entering a rehab facility. He admitted drinking at the hotel, but denied taking drugs.
In 2021, the man in the hotel room who had overdosed spoke to press. He told GQ he’d met up with Gillum for a paid sexual encounter and they’d both taken G (GHB). He believed Gillum passed out after mixing alcohol and G (which can prove a fatal combination).
Gillum faced no charges over the hotel incident but it derailed hopes of a political comeback. Then, in 2022, he faced unrelated felony charges relating to his conspiracy and fraud. Those charges were formally dismissed last year.
The Native Land Pod
Gillum is now re-entering the spotlight. At the start of the year, The Hollywood Reporter announced that he would co-host a new podcast, Native Land Pod, for iHeartPodcasts. Alongside Tiffany D. Cross and Angela Rye, Gillum will dissect the news in the run-up to the November election.
Promoting the podcast, Gillum appeared recently on The Breakfast Club podcast.
Early on, the discussion turned to members of the Black community sharing negative stories on social media about famous Black figures without doing due research.
Co-host Charlamagne Tha God interjected and suggested that although a valid point, it sounded a little like Gillum blaming members of the community for his troubles after he placed himself in that hotel room.
Gillum said he fully understood how hurt and angry people might have felt about his actions.
He then suggested that, although we all make choices, we can’t be held accountable for everything that may happen when we choose a particular course.
“I would compare it to you deciding that you want to go out to a club,” Gillum said to Charlamagne. “The main motivation was you wanted to have a good time. And when you were there someone slipped your drink of Qualude and everything from the point of you having had that drink to waking up the next day is a mystery to you.
“If we were of different genders we might talk about this even more differently, but I made a choice to go somewhere at 5:00 in the afternoon with the expectation of leaving in 30 minutes. And after my drink, I don’t have a memory for six hours.” Gillum continued.
“And every picture, every video, everything we’ve collected since that was taken of me, shows me for the duration of that time lifeless looking with no ability to give consent, approval or anything else.
“So, I put myself in that situation. Yes, we all make choices. I chose this highway express over this one thinking it would get me there quicker … So yes, we all make choices but if you get in an accident along the way … I’m not going to say you want to go to the club, something happened to you, but it was your fault because you put yourself in the situation.
“What you put yourself in the situation to do was to enjoy yourself. To have a good time, to dance, and what resulted from that was something that looked very, very different. And I put it that way because I think we all have to start to consider the people living, making mistakes, thriving, as relatable to our circumstances.”
You can watch the whole podcast episode here. Gillum’s comments start at the 12-minute mark.
Gillum, Rye and Ross also swung by The Tamron Hall Show to promote their new podcast. On that, in reference to the scandal that scorched his political ambitions, Gillum said people, “Should never be judged forever by their worst day.”
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