Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, who narrowly lost to now-Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2018, is facing a 21-count federal indictment for alleged fraud in connection with his campaign.
Both Gillum and one of his top advisers, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, have been charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and making false statements. They’re set to appear in court Wednesday afternoon.
“The Indictment alleges that between 2016 and 2019, defendants Gillum and Lettman-Hicks conspired to commit wire fraud, by unlawfully soliciting and obtaining funds from various entities and individuals through false and fraudulent promises and representations that the funds would be used for a legitimate purpose,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
“The Indictment further alleges the defendants used third parties to divert a portion of those funds to a company owned by Lettman-Hicks, who then fraudulently provided the funds, disguised as payroll payments, to Gillum for his personal use.”
In a statement, Gillum insisted the charges were “political.”
“I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people,” he said.
“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. 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.”
This isn’t Gillum’s first run-in with the FBI. As mayor of Tallahassee, the bureau investigated Gillum as part of a probe into public corruption at Tallahassee City Hall. Gillum was never arrested or charged in the investigation, but it revealed that he had accepted tickets to the Broadway show Hamilton from an undercover FBI agent in New York City, which he was fined $5,000 for from a state ethics committee.
The Democratic Party cut ties with Lettman-Hicks in 2019, after a federal subpoena requested documents related to Gillum’s campaign and her PR firm P&P Communications. Despite this, Lettman-Hicks announced this month that she intended to run as a Democrat in a crowded field for Florida House District 8 in the Florida Panhandle.
Gillum, meanwhile, hasn’t run for political office since his defeat to DeSantis, but he’s still managed to make headlines.
His fall from grace began when police found him inebriated on the floor of a South Beach hotel in 2020, and he was suspected of overdosing on crystal meth with another man.
Gillum, who was within 34,000 votes of becoming Florida’s governor just two years prior, denied using drugs and claimed he had simply had too much to drink the night before. Still, the then-40-year-old said he was withdrawing himself from political life and entering a rehab facility.
Source by www.thedailybeast.com