Florida Political Star Andrew Gillum Says He's Going to Rehab After He Was Tied to Possible Overdose
"I will be stepping down from all public facing roles for the foreseeable future," Gillum said
A star politician in Florida, who narrowly lost the last gubernatorial election there, is heading to rehab after police say he was found drunk in a hotel room on Friday with a man who may have overdosed on drugs.
Andrew Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee who was the Democratic nominee for governor of Florida in 2018, reportedly said in a statement Sunday that he’s made the decision to “seek help, guidance and enter a rehabilitation facility” after the recent incident.
“This has been a wake-up call for me,” Gillum, also a CNN commentator, said in his statement. “Since my race for governor ended, I fell into a depression that has led to alcohol abuse. I witnessed my father suffer from alcoholism and I know the damaging effects it can have when untreated. I also know that alcoholism is often a symptom of deeper struggles.“
“I will be stepping down from all public facing roles for the foreseeable future,” Gillum said. (A spokesman did not respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.)
According to a police report obtained by The Miami New Times, Miami Beach officers arrived to the Mondrian South Beach hotel around 1 a.m. Friday and found Gillum, 40, in a room with two other men.
One of the men, Travis Dyson, was being treated by emergency responders for a “possible drug overdose” when officers arrived, according to the report. They tried to speak with Gillum, who was “under the influence of an unknown substance” and “unable to communicate due to his inebriated state.”
The police report states officers found three bags of what they suspected to be crystal meth on the bed and on the floor of the room.
Dyson, 30, was in stable condition at the scene, according to the report.
A third man, 56-year-old Aldo Mejias, told police he had given Dyson his credit card information to rent out the hotel room on Thursday and called 911 after he arrived later that night and Dyson soon collapsed on the bed, began vomiting and had trouble breathing.
“Mr. Mejias arrived at the hotel at approximately [11:07 p.m.] where he discovered Travis Dyson and Andrew Gillum inside the room under the influence of an unknown substance,” the report states.
Mejias told police he also saw Gillum vomiting in the bathroom, according to the report.
“I was in Miami last night for a wedding celebration when first responders were called to assist one of my friends. While I had too much to drink, I want to be clear that I have never used methamphetamines,” Gilum said in an earlier statement to the Herald.
According to a local TV news article, Dyson identified himself as a male escort through the website Rent Men. Dyson told the New Times that he and Gillum had been “friends for a while.”
“I personally was not celebrating a wedding. I don’t know if [Gillum] was in town for a wedding. He did not mention that,” Dyson told the New Times.
Gillum returned to his house from the hotel after the police arrived, according to the report. He is listed as “involved other.”
Miami Beach police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez tells PEOPLE that authorities are not treating the incident as a criminal matter.
Gillum, who has a wife and three children, said in his statement Sunday that he would “firmly focus on myself and my family.”
He became Florida’s first black gubernatorial nominee but lost his race to Ron DeSantis by about 32,000 votes, or less than half a percentage point.
In a brief statement on Monday, Gillum’s political group Forward Florida Action wished him “the very best as he takes a step back to focus on healing and his family.”
“We at @fwdfla are committed to doing the hard work of democracy and will be continuing our work to register and engage voters all across the state of Florida,” the committee said.
Gillum was first elected to the Tallahassee City Commissioner’s office at 23, in 2003, and then served four years as the city’s mayor.
His near loss in the 2018 gubernatorial election was the closest any Democrat has come in 20 years to beating a Republican in the state’s race for governor.
“He spoke to the issues better than anyone we’ve had,” Susan Smith, the former president of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, told Politico. “The way he spoke and the knowledge he had about working people and the most vulnerable will be sorely missed.”