Turns Out One of the GOP's Central Attacks on Andrew Gillum Was Totally Baseless

Photo: Getty

Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum spent much of his campaign defending himself against allegations of corruption. An FBI investigation targeting officials in Tallahassee, where Gillum was mayor, was used by his Republican opponent, Governor-elect Ron DeSantis, to smear him as an untrustworthy criminal. Now, the FBI has released an indictment in the case, and Gillum’s name does not appear in it, according to Politico.

The Florida gubernatorial race was the closest in state history. After a recount, DeSantis won by .39 percent of the vote. Republicans pushed the investigation narrative hard throughout the campaign. Politico reported that they spent $7 million on TV ads connecting Gillum with the probe. DeSantis also spent a lot of time during gubernatorial debates painting Gillum as corrupt.

Advertisement

The FBI isn’t done investigating the case, but it’s unlikely that Gillum will be indicted at this point.

“If the FBI had something on Gillum, they would have brought it by now or it would be in this indictment,” Steven R. Andrews, a criminal defense attorney who represented the Tallahassee city manager when he was called to testify in front of a grand jury, told Politico. “They got nothing on Gillum. He got screwed.”

According to Andrews, his client was never asked about Gillum during the questioning.

“The FBI never subpoenaed records from Andrew,” Gillum’s attorney, Barry Richard, told Politico. “They never said he was a suspect. They told him to his face that he wasn’t a target.”

Advertisement

This tracks with what Richard was saying for months. “There is no FBI probe of Gillum,” he told PolitiFact in October. “The only connection is the FBI asked him some questions in his home and told him he wasn’t the focus.”

The man who was indicted is Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox and his former chief of staff, Paige Carter-Smith. They are charged with a racketeering conspiracy in which Maddox, another former Tallahassee mayor, traded votes in City Hall for favors or payments from companies. They are also accused of defrauding a bank.

Advertisement

“With the mayor’s name not being listed in the indictment, there’s a sense of vindication. But as we said all along, this is not a surprise to us. It’s not a surprise to the mayor. He wasn’t a target,” Jamie Van Pelt, Gillum’s former chief of staff, told Politico. “But this isn’t an ‘I told you so’ moment, for our community. This is a very somber time. When something like this happens, it shocks a city.”

Share This Story