Andrew Gillum, former candidate for FL Gov., surrenders over alleged campaign fraud

Former Tallahassee mayor expected to be indicted in federal court

MIAMI, Fla. – Andrew, Gillum, a former Democratic nominee for Florida governor, has surrendered to authorities over alleged fraud tied to his campaign, Local 10 News has learned.

The federal indictment charges Gillum and a co-conspirator Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks with counts including lying to the FBI, wire fraud, grant fraud, bank fraud, campaign contribution fraud, and fund fraud. The indictment lists 21 counts.

ABC News reported that both were to appear in court on Wednesday afternoon. Gillum pleaded not guilty in his appearance and was released on his own recognizance.

In a statement he released, Gillum said the alleged charges stem from political motives. “There has been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee,” he said.

Gillum was the mayor of Tallahassee from 2014 through 2018.

He has been under federal investigation accused of accepting gifts from lobbyists and vendors while he was Tallahassee’s mayor.

The 26-page indictment points to the FBI conducting a public corruption investigation that began in April of 2015. In one instance, an FBI undercover agent posing as a developer interested in purchasing and developing property in Tallahassee was solicited to make a $5,000 campaign contribution for Gillum’s political action committee, to pay for a fundraising dinner, and in a trip to New York, paid for Gillum’s lodging, food and drink, “a boat ride around New York harbor, and a ticket to the Broadway show ‘Hamilton.’ "

The indictment stated that Florida law required municipal officials, such as Gillum, to file a Quarterly Gift Disclosure with the Florida Commission on Ethics if any gift was accepted that was valued at more than $100. The indictment said that on Dec. 28, 2016, he did file a gift disclosure, but did not disclose the gifts from the undercover agent.

There are other instances detailed in the indictment:

Allegedly solicited campaign contributions (from undercover FBI agents) in exchange for favors as Mayor of Tallahassee and then lied about it during a criminal, federal investigation into corruption in the City of Tallahassee.

Allegedly conspired to defraud (along with Lettman-Hicks) several individuals with promises that the funds would be used for legitimate purposes, but were instead used for personal gain.

Allegedly used a communications firm called P&P Communications Inc. (owned by Lettman-Hicks), to hide fraud. Gillum allegedly received regular payments disguised as employee wages.

Took $200,000 from two organizations intended to be used as a grant for fighting the preemption of local governments’ regulations. The indictment alleges that Lettman-Hicks diverted $50,000 of it to the company P&P Communications and used those funds to pay Gillum’s “salary.”

Allegedly took $150,000 of a $250,000 campaign contribution and had it diverted to P&P disguised as a contract to provide services on voter education, but it was instead disbursed to Gillum and Lettman-Hicks.

(See the indictment below)

Gillum made history in 2018 becoming the first Black candidate to win the Democratic nomination for Governor in Florida. He came within 34,000 votes of becoming the state’s governor but lost to Ron DeSantis.

Gillum’s attorneys say he is innocent of all charges.

Marc Elias, partner at the Elias Law Group and David Oscar Markus, of Markus/Moss, attorneys representing Gillum, released a prepared statement: “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”.

Gillum also said in a released statement: “I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people. Every campaign I’ve run has been done with integrity . . . They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now.”

In 2020, Gillum made headlines when he was discovered by police at a South Beach hotel incoherent.

In the early hours of March 13, police found him inebriated in a Miami Beach hotel room with two other men.

A photo of Gillum in a compromising position was leaked for the world to see.

Gillum denied taking methamphetamines but checked in to a rehab facility for treatment of alcoholism and depression.

About the Authors:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.