Andrew Gillum, DeSantis’s 2018 Rival, Is Charged With Conspiracy and Fraud

MIAMI — Andrew Gillum, the Democrat who misplaced the 2018 Florida governor’s race to Ron DeSantis, surrendered to federal authorities in Tallahassee on Wednesday after he and a detailed affiliate have been charged with conspiracy and 19 counts of fraud over how they raised and used funds when he was mayor of Tallahassee and a candidate for governor.

Mr. Gillum, 42, was additionally charged with making false statements to the FBI

He pleaded not responsible in a courtroom look on Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Gillum, wearing a navy swimsuit with a darkish tie and face masks, was cuffed round his wrists and ankles, with a sequence round his waist. Contained in the courtroom have been a few of his associates and a gaggle of reports reporters. He left the courthouse after his launch and gave no remark to the cameras and microphones ready exterior.

The arrest is the most recent detour from Mr. Gillum’s once-ascendant profession. He got here inside 32,000 votes of the governorship — which might have made him Florida’s first Black governor and a hopeful future White Home — solely to lose his political path and face private struggles. In 2020, the police discovered him in a Miami Seaside lodge room the place one other man was affected by a attainable drug overdose.

The fees seem to stem from a federal investigation into Tallahassee Metropolis Corridor that started in 2015 and concerned undercover FBI brokers posing as builders. Revelations from the investigation, together with that Mr. Gillum had socialized with the undercover brokers in New York, the place they took a ship experience to the Statue of Liberty and noticed the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” have been a difficulty within the 2018 marketing campaign. Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, mentioned on the time that Mr. Gillum couldn’t be trusted to run the state.

Mr. Gillum, who didn’t disclose the presents on the time as required by state legislation, paid a $5,000 Florida ethics effective in 2019.

The 21-count indictment towards Mr. Gillum reveals {that a} grand jury filed the costs towards him on June 7. Additionally charged was Sharon Lettman-Hicks, 53, a confidante of Mr. Gillum’s since he was in school. In response to the indictment, she used her communications firm to disguise fraudulent funds to Mr. Gillum as a part of her payroll.

In an announcement, Mr. Gillum mentioned he had run all of his political campaigns “with integrity.”

“Make no mistake that this case is just not authorized, it’s political,” he mentioned. “There’s been a goal on my again ever since I used to be the mayor of Tallahassee. They discovered nothing then, and I’ve full confidence that my authorized workforce will show my innocence now.”

Ms. Lettman-Hicks, who’s operating as a Democrat for a State Home seat in Tallahassee, was in a wheelchair when she appeared in courtroom on Wednesday and pleaded not responsible. She declined to remark.

The indictment covers occasions involving Mr. Gillum and Ms. Lettman-Hicks from 2016 to 2019. The false statements cost towards Mr. Gillum is expounded to his interactions with the undercover brokers.

In response to the indictment, starting in 2016, Mr. Gillum and two unnamed associates solicited marketing campaign contributions from the undercover brokers for Mr. Gillum’s newly shaped Ahead Florida political motion committee. To maintain the brokers’ names non-public, the associates promised to funnel the contributions in different methods, together with by means of Ms. Lettman-Hicks’s firm, P&P Communications. In trade, they have been promised “unencumbered authorities contracts,” in response to one of many unnamed associates.

Mr. Gillum advised one of many undercover brokers that he “ought to separate in his thoughts the marketing campaign contributions and the Tallahassee tasks,” the indictment says, including that Mr. Gillum additionally “indicated he seemed favorably on” the spy’s proposed improvement tasks.

The indictment says that when Mr. Gillum voluntarily spoke to FBI brokers in 2017, he “falsely represented” that the undercover brokers posing as builders by no means provided him something and that he had stopped speaking with them after they tried to hyperlink their contributions to help for potential Tallahassee tasks.

The fraud and conspiracy costs are associated to Mr. Gillum’s dealings with Ms. Lettman-Hicks on the subject of P&P Communications and Mr. Gillum’s marketing campaign.

In 2017, when he turned a candidate for governor, Mr. Gillum resigned from his place with Individuals for the American Means, a liberal advocacy group whose Tallahassee workplace was leased from Ms. Lettman-Hicks. Mr. Gillum misplaced his annual $122,500 wage, and Ms. Lettman-Hicks misplaced $3,000 in month-to-month hire. Mr. Gillum was additionally paid about $70,500 a 12 months as mayor, a place he held from 2014 to 2018.

Mr. Gillum then turned an worker of P&P Communications, the place he was given a month-to-month wage of $10,000. In response to the indictment, hiring Mr. Gillum was “solely a canopy used to supply him funds that he misplaced” after his resignation from Individuals for the American Means.

When Mr. Gillum and Ms. Lettman-Hicks solicited $50,000 in grant funding from two unnamed organizations, the cash was meant for use for the Marketing campaign to Defend Native Options, an effort by Mr. Gillum to struggle state efforts to pre-empt native governments’ energy. As a substitute, in response to the indictment, that cash in the end went to P&P Communications to pay Mr. Gillum.

In 2018, the indictment says, Mr. Gillum and Ms. Lettman-Hicks defrauded an unnamed marketing campaign donor who had given $250,000 meant for Mr. Gillum’s marketing campaign. As a substitute, $150,000 of that was diverted to Mr. Gillum’s political motion committee and to P&P Communications.

In response to the indictment, in November 2018, $130,000 from the marketing campaign was speculated to go to “get out the vote” efforts. As a substitute, $60,000 went to P&P Communications and was utilized in half to pay Mr. Gillum $20,000 in “bonus” funds from Nov. 20 to 29, 2018.

Ultimately, it was listed falsely in Mr. Gillum’s marketing campaign finance report as a reimbursement for “Get Out the Vote Canvassing.”

Alexandra Glorioso contributed reporting from Tallahassee.

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