Andrew Gillum lost an election and is still somehow being touted as a 2020 White House candidate. Why should a little ethics mess hold him back? This is the sort of thing Joe Biden gets entangled in every weekend.
Still it’s not exactly good news for a proposed 2020 campaign.
An ethics complaint against former Florida gubernatorial candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum will proceed after the state ethics commission found probable cause at a hearing Friday that he had accepted gifts, Gillum’s lawyer confirmed.
Gillum faced six counts related to soliciting and accepting gifts — including rental accommodations in Costa Rica, a boat ride to see the Statue of Liberty and tickets to see the Broadway musical “Hamilton” in 2016 —
At the hearing, the Florida ethics commission advocate considered the facts of the case and “recommended no probable cause on the account for soliciting gifts, and she recommended probable cause on the remaining counts, which were accepting gifts that exceeded $100,” Richard said.Florida law bans state officials from accepting gifts worth more than $100.
CNN’s fake news report is predictably one sided, quoting Gillium’s lawyer extensively, but even sympathetic figures are seeing problems.
The Costa Rica and New York trips, however, remain damaging for Gillum. Florida law requires state officials to report all gifts from lobbyists that have a value greater than $100. Gillum says he paid for his share of the Costa Rica trip, and that he thought his brother had procured the Hamilton tickets. But receipts suggest that he underpaid for the Costa Rica vacation, unless he somehow got the world’s greatest deal on a luxury villa. Moreover, text messages demonstrate that he knew Miller, and not his brother, paid for the Hamilton tickets…
Given that Gillum never disclosed the villa vacation, the New York hotel room, the Hamilton ticket, and the boat tour, a Tallahassee businessman filed an ethics complaint against him.
Now, following an investigation, the Florida Commission on Ethics has found probable cause that Gillum did, indeed, violate ethics laws by failing to report the freebies he received from Corey (an actual lobbyist) and Miller (an FBI agent posing as a real estate developer who was lobbying Tallahassee).
it’s clear that Friday’s findings undermine his account and, by extension, his credibility. Throughout the campaign, he insisted that he paid his share of the lavish excursions and never accepted gifts from lobbyists
Is this a problem? Yes.
Is it disabling? Barring criminal chargers, I wouldn’t bet on it. And I don’t see the FBI arresting a 2020 candidate. Sorry, a Democrat 2020 candidate. The current state of play is that if the FBI were to get involved, it would be to announce that Gillum was their undercover agent.
But Dem 2020 donors looking around the clown car will probably wonder if there aren’t better investments than a guy petty enough to do all this just for free tickets to some terrible musical theater.
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