TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Andrew Gillum, who narrowly lost to Ron DeSantis in the race for Florida governor four years ago, was indicted Wednesday on federal charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements during his time as Tallahassee mayor and campaign for governor.
Wearing a mask, and his hands and legs shackled to a chain around his waist, Gillum pleaded not guilty to all 21 counts in Tallahassee federal court later in the day. He agreed to a pretrial order laying out conditions and restrictions and was released from custody on his own recognizance about 30 minutes later.
Gillum, who Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden campaigned for when he ran for governor, exited the courthouse, quietly saying, “Hi. Hi. Hi.” When asked if he had any comment, he said, “No.”
Attorney Todd Yoder of Markus/Moss, a nationally known Miami criminal trial law firm, said Gillum is innocent and “we look forward to a unanimous not guilty verdict of the jury.”
Gillum had proclaimed his innocence in a statement sent out by his attorneys David Markus, Yoder’s boss, and Marc Elias, a high-powered Democratic Party elections lawyer, before the indictment was unsealed.
“The government got it wrong today,” Elias and Markus said in a joint statement.
The first Black candidate for governor in Florida history, Gillum won a surprise victory over former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Miami Mayor Phil Levine, and others in a crowded Democratic Party primary. He lost by just 0.4%, or about 32,000 votes, to DeSantis.
The indictment comes five years after the FBI issued its first set of subpoenas to several public officials and business owners who did business with the city of Tallahassee. The investigation led to the convictions last year of former Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox, his business partner Paige Carter-Smith and developer J.T. Burnette.
But this indictment stemmed from a separate investigation into Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign PAC, called Forward Florida, as well as his jobs with a Massachusetts nonprofit and with Lettman-Hicks and her public relations firm.
Most of the charges have to do with him soliciting campaign contributions for favors, or diverting campaign funds for his own use.