TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Andrew Gillum, Tallahassee's telegenic former mayor and the 2018 Democratic nominee for Florida governor, was involved in a meth overdose incident early Friday morning in a Miami Beach hotel room.
It was an embarrassing and devastating blow to Gillum, a long-serving former city commissioner and mayor who still harbored ambitions of becoming governor one day.
A Miami Beach Police Department report says officers were called to a West Avenue hotel around 1 a.m. and found Gillum there with two other men, one of whom was being treated for a possible drug overdose. Gillum was too inebriated to speak with officers, though he was later reported in stable condition and with normal vital signs.
Police found plastic baggies of suspected crystal meth on the bed and floor of the hotel room, the report says. But Gillum, in a prepared statement issued shortly after news broke, denied using the drug and offered an apology.
"I was in Miami last night for a wedding celebration when first responders were called to assist one of my friends,” Gillum said in the written release. “While I had too much to drink, I want to be clear that I have never used methamphetamines. I apologize to the people of Florida for the distraction this has caused our movement.”
“I’m thankful to the incredible Miami Beach EMS team for their efforts. I will spend the next few weeks with my family and appreciate privacy during this time," Gillum added.
One of the three men, identified as the complainant, told officers that he arrived at the hotel room around 11 p.m. “where he discovered (the other man) and Andrew Gillum inside the room under the influence of an unknown substance.”
He said the other man with Gillum opened the hotel room door before walking to the bed and collapsing in a prone position. He also saw Gillum in the bathroom vomiting. He also said he tried to rouse the other man awake after he began having trouble breathing. After that man collapsed again, the complainant performed chest compressions on him and called police and Fire Rescue.
Officers tried to speak with Gillum but were unsuccessful. “Mr. Gillum was unable to communicate with officers due to his inebriated state,” the report says.
But when Fire Rescue workers went back to the hotel to check on Gillum later, he appeared fine.
“Fire Rescue stated that he was in stable condition and his vitals were normal,” the report says. “Mr. Gillum left the hotel room and returned to his residence without incident.”
The police report says first responders found suspected drugs at the scene.
“Inside of the hotel room, officers observed in plain sight three small clear plastic baggies containing suspected crystal meth on both the bed and floor,” the report says. “The three small baggies of suspected narcotics were impounded at the Miami Beach Police Station Property and Evidence Unit for destruction.”
Ernesto Rodriguez, a spokesman for Miami Beach PD, provided a copy of the report to the Tallahassee Democrat, part of the USA TODAY Network. No arrests were made.
“At this time the incident is not being investigated as a criminal matter,” Rodriguez said.
Gillum did not answer a phone call. Some of his top advisers and spokespeople did not respond to texts or phone calls before the news broke.
Married with three children, Gillum has maintained a high profile since his bitter loss two years ago to Republican Ron DeSantis. After capturing the national spotlight during the campaign, he launched an ambitious effort to register voters ahead of this year’s election.
He is a frequent face on CNN and has appeared as a panelist during recent Democratic primary coverage.
However, Gillum is no stranger to scandal. His gubernatorial campaign began to falter late in the campaign after revelations surfaced about his interactions with lobbyists and undercover FBI agents during out-of-town trips.
The case was first reported on Twitter by Candace Owens, a conservative commentator, and author.
Miami PD provided a copy of the police report, though Gillum's address, date of birth and other information was redacted.
An unredacted copy was tweeted by Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics that included Gillum's address and date of birth. That information matched information at the Leon County Supervisor of Elections and Property Appraisers offices.
Follow Jeff Burlew on Twitter: @JeffBurlew