OAN Geraldyn Berry
UPDATED 4:20 PM – Thursday, April 20, 2023
Former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum (D-Fla.) is on trial in federal court on charges of corruption and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The former mayor of Tallahassee came within less than a percentage point of being elected the first Black governor of Florida in 2018. He lost by fewer than 34,000 votes to Republican Ron DeSantis.
The 43-year-old is accused of collecting $57,000 in campaign donations that were covertly transferred to his personal accounts through the corporation of a Sharon Lettman-Hicks, a longtime political advisor to Gillum and a former executive with the progressive organization People for the American Way Foundation.
Defense Attorney Margot Moss argued that Lettman-Hicks knew Gillum was a rising political star and therefore sought to utilize his fame to help increase the firm’s business.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Milligan claimed that when Gillum left his six-figure career to run for government, he was still paying off a sizable mortgage, two pricey automobiles, and private school tuition for his kids, which he used campaign funds to finance.
“This case is not about politics,” Milligan said. “This case is about deceiving donors (and) stealing from his own campaign.”
According to the prosecution, Gillum additionally made false statements about his meetings with undercover FBI agents, masquerading as developers, that paid for a 2016 trip to New York for both him and his brother that included a ticket to the Broadway smash “Hamilton.” Gillum had allegedly lied to the FBI by claiming that his brother gave him the Broadway ticket and that he never received anything from these undercover “developers”.
Undercover FBI agent Mike Miller testified after Gillum’s lawyer asked whether there was any allegation that the “Hamilton” ticket was a bribe.
“There was no ask from us,” Miller said. “There’s no bribe.”
The campaign allegedly used a position at P & P Communications, a public relations firm owned by one of Gillum’s backers, to channel the agent’s subsequent donations, according to Milligan.
The prosecutor also claimed that Gillum did not perform any actual labor for the organization.
The maximum sentence for each of the 17 counts of wire fraud and the conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the Gillum indictment is 20 years in prison. The maximum punishment for the offense of lying to the FBI is five years.
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