Gillum finds ‘vindication’ in ethics settlement

News Service of Florida

 Andrew Gillum is making hay out of a settlement in the ethics probe that contributed to his narrow loss to Gov. Ron DeSantis in November.

Insiders hoping for salacious tidbits about the former Tallahassee mayor’s trips with undercover FBI agents and lobbyists were sorely disappointed last Wednesday, when the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee and an attorney representing the Florida Commission on Ethics reached the settlement.

Florida Commission on Ethics’ advocate Elizabeth A. Miller dropped four of five ethics charges against Gillum, who agreed to pay a $5,000 fine for taking a private boat cruise around the Statue of Liberty with his onetime pal, Adam Corey, who lobbied the city at the time of the trip.

Gillum, whose attempt to become the Sunshine State’s first Black governor made him a national sensation, called the settlement “vindication” that he’d done nothing wrong.

DeSantis made the ethics probe a major theme of his campaign against Gillum, accusing his Democratic opponent of “public corruption” and of lying to the public about trips to Costa Rica and New York City with Corey and undercover FBI agents.

Following the settlement, which still has to be approved by the ethics commission, Gillum sent an email with the subject line “facts matter” to supporters.

“During the campaign — because you asked for it — we printed shirts that said, ‘we have his back.’ And it’s true. You all have ALWAYS had my back, no matter what the other side threw at me — and they threw a lot,” wrote Gillum, who’s now a political commentator for CNN.

The result last Wednesday “confirm what I’ve said all along — facts matter and I never knowingly violated any ethics laws,” he went on in the message from his political committee, Forward Florida.

The committee’s goal is to “elect progressive voices, fight for progressive values” and register a million voters before the 2020 election.

Gillum didn’t directly parlay his agreement to pay a $5,000 fine, along with an admission that he broke the law by accepting a gift worth more than $100 without reporting it, into a fundraising attempt.

But the email included a hot link to a website where donors could contribute to Forward Florida, as did an even more concise Twitter post: “Facts matter. Now back to work at”