Friday, December 2

Andrew Gillum, 2018 Florida governor candidate, charged with fraud

Andrew Gillum, the 2018 Democratic nominee for Florida governor, and a longtime adviser were indicted in federal court on Wednesday on fraud charges.

The US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida announced the charges against Gillum and Sharon Letterman-Hicks, a longtime Gillum adviser and the chief executive of the National Black Justice Coalition, after a grand jury returned a 21-count indictment.

The indictment alleges that between 2016 and 2019, Gillum and Letterman-Hicks illegally solicited funds under false pretenses. It also alleges that the pair used third parties to direct some of those funds to a company owned by Letterman-Hicks, who then funneled the funds to Gillum for his personal use of him.

Both Gillum and Letterman-Hicks are facing 19 counts of wire fraud. Gillum is also facing a charge of making false statements to the FBI.

Gillum and Letterman-Hicks are set to make their initial appearance in a Tallahassee federal court on Wednesday afternoon.

In a statement, Gillum, a former Tallahassee mayor, denied any wrongdoing and said that the case against him was politically motivated.

“I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people,” Gillum 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.”

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Gillum’s attorneys did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment, but defended Gillum in a statement to NBC News.

“The government got it wrong today. The evidence in this case is clear and will show that Mr. Gillum is innocent of all charges. We look forward to putting this case to rest and giving Andrew and his family peace of mind once and for all,” said Marc Elias, a top Democratic attorney, and criminal defense attorney David Oscar Markus.

The fraud charges mark the latest blow to Gillum’s reputation. Once seen as a rising Democratic star in Florida, Gillum has faced controversy since losing the 2018 gubernatorial race to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

He largely receded from public life in 2020 after he was found in a Miami Beach hotel room with a male escort who was being treated for an apparent overdose. Gillum said that he was abusing alcohol at the time to cope with his loss from him to DeSantis and checked himself into a rehabilitation facility.

Gillum also faced an FBI corruption investigation for years that stemmed from his time as Tallahassee Mayor. While he did not face criminal charges, he eventually agreed to pay a $5,000 fine.

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