Conservatives were rejoicing after explicit photos leaked showing purported images from the hotel room where Andrew Gillum was involved in a suspected drug incident last week. Their reactions (and actions) could lend further credence to the suspicion that Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee and candidate in Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial election, may have been the victim of some type of political setup.
While those suspicions have not been confirmed, at least one of the images circulating online was published by someone who the Advocate called a “far-right gay blogger.” That photo showed a Black man who resembled Gillum, a married father of three, lying nude on the floor with his head turned to the side on a towel that looked to have vomit on it.
The salacious tabloid Daily Mail also published several other images purportedly from the same Miami Beach hotel in which Gillum and another man were reportedly found intoxicated and vomiting early on the morning of March 13. Those images showed everything from little baggies contained with white powder, prescription drug containers with white pills spilled and “a small bottle of an injectable medicine containing alprostadil which is typically used to treat erectile dysfunction and should never be mixed with alcohol,” all in a very messy hotel room where a third man was also present.
The other man in the room was later identified as Travis Dyson, a male escort who contradicted Gillum’s public apology for the unfortunate episode. Gillum said he was in Miami “for a wedding celebration when first responders were called to assist one of my friends.” Dyson, who was treated for a drug overdose, was later contacted by a reporter and denied knowing anything about a wedding. Dyson said he and Gillum have “been friends for a while” and that he “personally was not celebrating a wedding.”
Initial reports indicated methamphetamines were involved, prompting Gillum to first deny he’s ever used the drug before he voluntarily entered rehab on Monday for what he described as “alcohol abuse” and “depression” that he said followed his campaign to be governor. The admission was entirely out of character for a rising star within the Democratic Party who presented himself as the consummate family man with a Twitter bio that identifies himself to 633,000 followers as: “Father of three. Husband to R. Jai. Proud Floridian.”
The publication of the explicit photos was met with glee by several prominent Republican activists, including Isaiah Washington, Candace Owens and James Woods, whose once-promising acting career has been replaced by constant pro-GOP social media trolling. Washington, an unabashed supporter of Donald Trump‘s racist presidency who was famously fired over homophobic comments, even went so far as to compare Gillum to “a Slave.”
Owens, a suspected con artist who has openly mocked the “mass hysteria” over the coronavirus and once spoke of Adolf Hitler in sympathetic terms, was among the first to tweet that Dyson was “an openly gay man” after the news of what she called Gillum’s “drug/sex party.” One week later, after the photos were published, she deflected accusations of homophobia in one tweet and politicized Gillum’s incident in another.
That was followed by Woods tweeting the actual photo of the unclothed man said to be Gillum — a photo that also showed the bare foot of an apparent white person who may have snapped the picture, reinforcing suspicions that the photo was taken for political reasons and may have been the result of some type of setup.
“Just remember, this could have been Florida’s governor in the midst of the #WuhanCoronaVirus pandemic,” Woods wrote in his tweet. “Make sure you vote #Republican in November like your life depends on it. Because it does.”
A police report claimed that the Miami Beach Police Department was called to the Mondrian Hotel at 1100 West Avenue just before 1 a.m. March 13 pertaining to a suspected drug overdose. Gillum, Dyson and a third man, Aldo Mejias, were inside of the hotel room when the Miami Beach Fire-Rescue arrived to treat a possible overdose Dyson.
Mejias told officers that he gave Dyson his credit card information on March 12 to book a hotel room for that evening. The men were supposed to reconvene later. Mejias reportedly told officers that when he arrived at the hotel room around 11 p.m., Dyson opened the door, collapsed on the bed and began vomiting. Mejias said he gave Dyson CPR and called the paramedics. He also said that while giving Dyson CPR, Gillum was in the bathroom, vomiting, according to the report.
Officers reportedly attempted to speak with Gillum but were unable to “due to his inebriated state.” Miami Beach Fire-Rescue said it returned to the hotel a second time to do a “welfare check” on Gillum, who authorities said by that time was stable and had normal vitals.
According to the police report, officers found three small baggies of “suspected crystal meth,” which were located on the bed and floor in the hotel room. The suspected drugs were taken as evidence.
However, there were no criminal charges for any of the men involved and officers said that Gillum left the Mondrian Hotel room “without incident” and returned to his home.
Gillum, who was previously reported to be on a shortlist of potential Democratic vice presidential running mates, said he “will be stepping down from all public facing roles for the foreseeable future.” The CNN analyst had at one point even met with former President Barack Obama amid speculation about his own possible 2020 presidential campaign.
Even still, the fortunate truth for Gillum is that he works in a profession where worse deeds — whether alleged or true — have been readily forgiven by voters plenty of times. That fact still leaves open the very good chance of Gillum’s triumphant return to politics.
Perhaps the biggest loss is Gillum having to step away from the good and important work he was doing as the chairman of Forward Florida Action, a political group that describes its objective as “registering and reengaging voters who are often unseen and unheard, electing more leaders that share our values to local office, and making the state legislature more diverse.”