Andrew Gillum, rival of DeSantis in 2018, is accused of conspiracy and fraud

MIAMI – Andrew Gillum, the Democrat who lost the Florida governor’s race in 2018 to Ron DeSantis, turned himself in to federal authorities in Tallahassee on Wednesday after he and a close associate were accused of collusion and 19 orders from fraud over how they collected and used funds when he was mayor of Tallahassee and a candidate for governor.

Mr. Gillum, 42, was also accused of making false statements to the FBI He is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday afternoon.

The arrest is the latest diversion from Mr. Gillum’s once emerging career. He came within 32,000 votes of the governorship – which would have made him the first Black Governor of Florida and a future White House hopeful – only to lose his political direction and win personal battles. In 2020, police found him in a hotel room in Miami Beach where another man was suffering from a possible overdose of drugs.

The allegations come from a federal investigation into Tallahassee City Hall that began in 2015 and involved undercover FBI agents posing as developers. Revelations from the investigation, including that Mr. Gillum had fun with the undercover agents in New York, where they took a boat trip to the Statue of Liberty and saw that the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” was a problem in the 2018 campaign. DeSantis, a Republican, said at the time that Mr. Gillum could not be trusted to run the state.

The charge of 21 against Mr. Gillum shows that a grand jury filed the charges against him on June 7. Sharon Lettman-Hicks, 53, a trustee of Mr. Gillum, was also charged. Gillum has been since his college.

In a statement, Mr. Gillum said he had carried out all his political campaigns “with integrity”.

“Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political,” he said. “There’s been a goal on my back since I was the mayor of Tallahassee. They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will now prove my innocence.”

The indictment covers events in which Mr. Gillum and mw. Lettman-Hicks from 2016 to 2019. The false allegations against Mr. Gillum is related to his interactions with the undercover agents.

According to the indictment, beginning in 2016, Mr. Gillum and two unnamed employees demanded campaign contributions from the undercover agents for Mr. Gillum’s newly formed Forward Florida Political Action Committee. To keep the names of the agents private, the staff promised to funnel the contributions in other ways, including through Ms. Lettman-Hicks’ company, P&P Communications. In return, they were promised “unlimited government contracts”, according to one of the unnamed employees.

Mr. Gillum told one of the undercover agents that he would “separate the campaign contributions and the Tallahassee projects in his mind,” the indictment said, adding that Mr. Gillum “also indicated that he looked closely at” the undercover agent’s proposed development projects.

The indictment states that when Mr. Gillum spoke voluntarily with FBI agents in 2017, he “represented” that the undercover agents who posed as developers never offered him anything and that he stopped communicating with them after they tried to link their contributions to support for potential Tallahassee projects.

The charges of fraud and conspiracy are related to Mr. Gillum’s dealings with Ms. Lettman-Hicks on P&P Communications and Mr. Gillum’s campaign.

In 2017, when he became a candidate for governor, Mr. Gillum resigned from his position at People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group whose Tallahassee office was leased from Ms. Lettman-Hicks. Mr. Gillum lost his annual salary of $ 122,500, and Ms. Lettman-Hicks lost $ 3,000 in monthly rent. Mr. Gillum was also paid about $ 70,500 a year as mayor, a position he held from 2014 to 2018.

Mr. Gillum then became an employee of P&P Communications, where he received a monthly salary of $ 10,000. According to the indictment, the hiring of Mr. Gillum was “only a cover used to provide him with funds he lost” after his dismissal from People for the American Way.

When Mr. Gillum and mw. Lettman-Hicks requested $ 50,000 in grant funding from two unnamed organizations, the money was intended to be used for the Campaign to Defend Local Solutions, an attempt by Mr. Gillum to fight state efforts to prevent the power of local governments. Instead, according to the indictment, that money eventually went to P&P Communications to get Mr. Gillum.

In 2018, the indictment says, Mr. Gillum and mw. Lettman-Hicks defrauded an unnamed campaign donor who had donated $ 250,000 to Mr. Gillum’s campaign. Instead, $ 150,000 of that was diverted to Mr. Gillum’s Political Action Committee and to P&P Communications.

According to the indictment, in November 2018, $ 130,000 of the campaign would go to “out of the vote” efforts. Instead, $ 60,000 went to P&P Communications, which was used in part to buy Mr. Gillum $ 20,000 in November bonuses. 20-29, 2018.

Finally, it was falsely mentioned in Mr. Gillum’s campaign finance report as compensation for “Get Out The Vote Canvassing.”

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