Andrew Gillum, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate that nearly won the 2018 race over current Florida governor Ron DeSantis, has been indicted on 21 federal charges, including 19 counts of wire-tap fraud and conspiracy. He served as 126th Mayor of Tallahassee between 2014 and 2018.
The federal indictments were announced by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Jason R. Coody.
Gillum, as detailed by The Washington Post, led a fraud operation that funneled campaign contributions to himself and associate Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks between 2016 and 2019.
“I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people,” Gillum said in response to Wednesday’s federal indictments. “Every campaign I’ve run has been done with integrity. Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political.”
“Throughout my career I have always stood up for the people of Florida and have spoken truth to power,” Gillum, 52, added. “There’s been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee. They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now.”
Following his unsuccessful bid for Florida governor, Gillum endured high-profile legal troubles — most notable was an incident in March 2020 when the politician was found unconscious in a Miami hotel room next to two men who had suffered drug overdoses.
A bag of crystal meth was found in the room but Gillum alleged that he was drunk when authorities found him in the room. Gillum came out as bisexual in September 2020.
The Florida Commission on Ethics also issued Gillum a $5,000 fine in 2019 for using political campaign contributions to entice lobbyists.
Democrats such as Vice President Kamala Harris championed Gillum along the campaign trail and after his narrow loss to political firebrand DeSantis in 2018.
“The government got it wrong today, The evidence, in this case, is clear and will show that Mr. Gillum is innocent of all charges,” answered Gillum’s legal defense in a statement.
A colleague of Gillum’s told The Post on Wednesday that there are more pressing issues going on in the country for the DOJ to explore than Gillum’s past acts.
“As the country watches live hearings about the terrorist attack on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, I am troubled that Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice has yet to charge key co-conspirators as we learn of this meritless indictment,” said Angela Rye, political strategist and friend of Gillum’s.
Gillum also worked as a CNN commentator.
“Andrew Gillum only lost the Florida governors election by 33,000 votes,” OutKick founder Clay Travis said on Wednesday’s OutKick the Show, looking at the felonies in line for Gillum.
“That’s how close he came to being the governor of Florida during COVID. How much different would this country look like … it would have been the most consequential governors election in the 21st century. Maybe, the most consequential governors election in most of our lives?
“How much different would the state of Florida look if Andrew Gillum was in charge?”
Watch the full episode of Wednesday’s OutKick the Show.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela