Democrat Andrew Gillum, who lost his bid to become Florida’s governor in a campaign that devolved into charges of racism against his white rival, lost a round Friday in an ethics case against him.
The case involved the actions of Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee, during 2016.
On Friday, Florida’s ethics commission found that there was probable cause that Gillum had committed an ethics violation and recommended the case go forward.
The commission ruled that Gillum accepted “things of value” designed to influence his actions and that he had reason to know they exceeded the state limit on gifts, but failed to report them.
Florida law bans elected officials from accepting gifts worth more than $100, CNN reported.
Barry Richard, Gillum’s lawyer, said an administrative law judge will hear the case within 60 days.
“We’re going to have a full evidentiary hearing before an independent judge. It’ll be open to the public, and everybody can decide for themselves,” he said, according to the Miami Herald. “There for sure will be no settlement.”
Tallahassee businessman Erwin Jackson, who filed the complaint, was pleased with Friday’s outcome.
“This is a victory for the good ones,” he said.
“Hopefully the word is getting out that we expect our elected officials to act ethically and honestly and represent the public instead of continuing to represent themselves,” he said, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
The charges against Gillum say that he accepted a ticket to the Broadway show “Hamilton” and a boat ride to the Statue of Liberty during a 2016 visit to New York City. Gillum also stayed several nights at a Costa Rican villa belonging to lobbyist Adam Corey, the charges claim.
Gillum has not denied that those trips took place, but he has said that he covered all costs related to himself with his own cash.
The investigation began before last fall’s election, and emerged as a campaign issue when Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis clashed in their final debate in October. At the time, the FBI was in the midst of a corruption investigation of Tallahassee government. Gillum was not charged in that investigation.
“I should have asked more questions to make sure that everything that transpired was above board,” Gillum said then, according to WFTS-TV. “In the state of Florida, we’ve got a lot of issues. In fact, we’ve got 99 issues and ‘Hamilton’ ain’t one of them.”
DeSantis, who went on to narrowly defeat Gillum, used the ticket as a symptom of a deeper issue.
“He wants you to believe that he’s not under investigation,” he said. “Why would an undercover FBI agent posing as a contractor give him a $1,000 ticket to ‘Hamilton?’”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.