Andrew Gillum, former Florida gubernatorial candidate, indicted on wire fraud costs

Andrew Gillum, former Florida gubernatorial candidate, indicted on wire fraud costs



CNN

Andrew Gillum, a Democratic rising star who practically received a 2018 race for Florida governor, was indicted Wednesday together with a detailed political ally on costs of conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements.

Gillum pleaded not responsible throughout a short look at america Courthouse in Tallahassee. The trial date was set for August 16.

A 26-page grand jury indictment unsealed Wednesday alleges that Gillum and a longtime affiliate, Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks, participated in a years-long scheme to transform political donations and grant funds into private earnings. In keeping with a press launch from the Division of Justice, the 2 obtained funds by “false and fraudulent guarantees and representations that the funds could be used for a legit function.”

Gillum can also be accused of mendacity to the FBI throughout an investigation into corruption inside the Tallahassee metropolis corridor, the place Gillum served as mayor, and is accused of promising political favors to those that supported him financially.

Gillum, 42, and Lettman-Hicks, 53, face 21 costs, based on the information launch. Making a false assertion carries a jail sentence of as much as 5 years, whereas the utmost jail time period for wire fraud and conspiracy costs is each 20 years.

In an announcement issued earlier than the federal government introduced the costs, Gillum declared his innocence and urged that the case in opposition to him was political.

“I’ve spent the final 20 years of my life in public service and I proceed to battle for individuals,” Gillum mentioned. “Each marketing campaign I’ve run has been achieved with integrity. Make no mistake, this case is just not authorized, it’s political. All through my profession, I’ve at all times stood up for the individuals of Florida and spoke fact to energy.”

Gillum is a former CNN political commentator.

A joint assertion from Marc Elias, a distinguished election lawyer, and David Oscar Markus, a Miami prison protection lawyer, mentioned: “The federal government was unsuitable in the present day.”

The impeachment is the most recent downturn within the decline of somebody as soon as one of many fastest-rising politicians within the Democratic Get together. Gillum rose to nationwide fame in 2018 as the primary black gubernatorial candidate in Florida historical past, however soared after dropping to Republican Ron DeSantis that November by fewer than 33,000 votes. His star crashed in March 2020, when police responding to a attainable overdose name mentioned they discovered Gillum in a Miami lodge room with a baggie of methamphetamine and a collapsed companion. Gillum later entered rehab.

Christina Pushaw, spokesperson for DeSantis wrote on Twitter Tuesday: “Thirty thousand votes… In a state of greater than 21 million inhabitants. DeSantis received by 0.4% That is what saved Florida. Your vote issues.”

The allegations within the indictment embody Gillum’s rise as mayor of Tallahassee by his marketing campaign for governor and his political work after his loss. In keeping with the indictment, starting in 2016, Gillum and Lettman-Hicks repeatedly used entities managed by one or the opposite to solicit donations that will then be used for private use.

On a number of events, cash donated to these entities discovered its option to a media consulting firm owned by Lettman-Hicks, which “then fraudulently supplied Gillum for his private use disguised as payroll,” based on the indictment.

In a single instance, Gillum and Lettman-Hicks allegedly directed a $250,000 marketing campaign contribution to a separate 501(c)4 group “managed by an acquaintance who Gillum and Lettman-Hicks may management.” They then tried to cover the fraud, together with by submitting fraudulent paperwork, the indictment says.

“It is like a Greek tragedy,” mentioned John Morgan, an Orlando trial lawyer who donated to Gillum’s marketing campaign in 2018. “Andrew Gillum has single-handedly destroyed the Democratic Get together in Florida for the foreseeable future. And that is his legacy.”

Lettman-Hicks is listed as govt director of the Nationwide Black Justice Coalition, an LGBTQ advocacy group, and is working for state consultant. She has been described as a mentor to Gillum and the 2 have labored intently since Gillum’s first marketing campaign for Tallahassee metropolis commissioner 20 years in the past. In 2019, Gillum began a brand new enterprise, CJD Group, LLC. Lettman-Hicks was listed on firm registration paperwork filed with the state.

Questions on his employment relationship first arose throughout his marketing campaign for governor. Gillum listed Lettman-Hicks’ work within the state’s monetary disclosure paperwork, however declined to explain his position in his firm. On the similar time, the Gillum marketing campaign rented places of work from the Lettman-Hicks group.

After Gillum’s loss, when she turned the face of Florida Democrats and led a brand new effort to register voters within the state, Lettman-Hicks gained a distinguished place within the state’s Democratic Get together. At one level, she was the occasion’s highest-paid worker this yr, based on marketing campaign finance data.

In 2019, a leaked federal grand jury subpoena first urged investigators had been trying into hyperlinks between Gillum and Lettman-Hicks. The subpoena, first reported by the Tampa Bay Instances, requested an affiliate to show over paperwork associated to Lettman-Hicks, Gillum, his gubernatorial marketing campaign and different organizations linked to each people. By the top of the yr, a political committee that was alleged to fund Gillum’s future political efforts had spent a whole bunch of hundreds of {dollars} on authorized bills.

On the time, Lettman-Hicks wrote on Fb that she was a “pawn utilized by the oppressor” to convey down Gillum.

For years, Gillum has confronted rumors that the FBI was surrounding his political exercise. His marketing campaign for governor was dogged by a sprawling federal investigation at Tallahassee Metropolis Corridor that exposed Gillum had accepted Broadway tickets to the musical “Hamilton” and different perks from an undercover FBI agent posing as a developer. The investigation led to the conviction of a Tallahassee commissioner and two businessmen, however Gillum by no means confronted costs. In the end, he settled a state ethics investigation by paying a $5,000 tremendous.

In keeping with the indictment unsealed Wednesday, he lied to federal investigators once they interviewed him about public corruption in Tallahassee. Gillum, prosecutors mentioned, falsely instructed FBI brokers that the developer by no means provided or gave him something and that he had stopped speaking with the developer after they tried to hyperlink political contributions to assist for potential initiatives in Tallahassee. .

Even within the midst of his authorized troubles, Gillum maintained his new nationwide standing for a time after his loss. CNN employed him as a political commentator and Harvard College selected him as a visiting professor. He turned a sounding board for 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, who had been desirous to endorse the younger black chief.

After his 2020 run-in with police in South Florida, Gillum went lacking for some time. He introduced that he could be coming into rehab, saying in an announcement, “I will probably be relinquishing all public roles for the foreseeable future.”

However his departure from the highlight was temporary. In a revealing interview later in 2020 with TV host Tamron Corridor, Gillum broke down his substance abuse points after dropping to DeSantis. He additionally mentioned that she identifies as bisexual.

Most just lately, Gillum hosted a podcast by which he interviewed distinguished Black progressives and thought leaders. She just lately posted a dialogue with Laphonza Butler, president of the abortion rights group EMILY’s Record.

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