Andrew Gillum almost became Florida’s governor in 2018. The Democrat who narrowly lost to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) learned last week that he will now face a federal trial on felony charges including fraud and lying to the FBI.
In a hearing last week, U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor ruled against Gillum’s motion to dismiss the case against him before trial. A federal grand jury indicted Gillum and a co-defendant earlier this year based on allegations that he used campaign donations for personal expenses in his failed campaign for the governorship.
Onetime DeSantis Opponent Andrew Gillum Loses Bid To Toss Corruption Charges https://t.co/HmGnBpGwHd
— Pep's Dog (@PepsHuskydog) December 26, 2022
Gillum’s lawyers argued that the former Tallahassee mayor was charged in the case only because he is Black. Judge Winsor found that argument to be “meritless.”
The indictment was unsealed in June and revealed that prosecutors allege Gillum conspired with public relations executive Sharon Lettman-Hicks to solicit hundreds of thousands of dollars from political contributors in 2017, ostensibly for Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign. The pair then allegedly diverted the funds to their personal use.
Lettmann-Hicks designated Gillum as an employee of her consulting firm and paid him a salary and as an “independent contractor” to divert money to him while he was running for governor.
Undercover FBI agents met with Gillum during his campaign. The candidate solicited donations from the agents and allegedly suggested the payments might not be disclosed as political contributions.
DeSantis went on to win the 2018 election over Gillum by only 0.4% of the total vote. Even though DeSantis had a lead of 100,000 votes on the evening of Election Day, late-counted ballots from Democratic precincts eventually brought the final margin down to 34,000. After a statutorily-required recount, DeSantis was finally confirmed as governor-elect days later on November 17.
Despite the loss, Gillum became an immediate darling of the corporate media. He was hired as a CNN analyst and was considered to be one of the Democratic Party’s rising stars.
His political and media ambitions were dashed in March 2020 when he was discovered nonresponsive and intoxicated in a Miami hotel room with two other men and various illegal drugs. One of the men found in the room was allegedly a male escort.
In a media statement, Gillum said he was “in Miami last night for a wedding celebration when first responders were called to assist one of my friends.” He admitted having too much to drink but denied he had used methamphetamines.
DeSantis went on to have a highly successful first term as Florida governor and won reelection last month over Democrat challenger Charlie Crist by 19 percentage points.