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Ethics case could affect Gillum’s future

By Maya Jean-Charles I Staff Reporter
On February 16, 2019

There's no question Andrew Gillum is the most high-profile FAMU grad in the country right now.
Photo courtesy of Twitter.

On Friday, Jan.25, the state Ethics Commission ruled that there was probable cause to move forward with alleged ethics violations by Andrew Gillum. Gillum is facing an ethics case that could affect his future in politics. A local businessman filed a complaint with the state ethics board over Gillum's trips with a lobbyist in 2016. The board ruled that there was probable cause, meaning Gillum and his attorney will have to challenge the finding if Gillum hopes to come out of this untainted.

State officials will decide if the Democratic nominee for Florida Governor and former Tallahassee mayor violated state ethics laws.

Gillum, a proud Florida A&M graduate – who held his November election watch party at Lee Hall –  continues to make news three months after losing a close contest to Ron DeSantis for governor of Florida.

As a surprise winner in the Democratic primary, Gillum was able to create a name for himself by gaining the support of Barrack Obama, P. Diddy, DJ Khaled and other public figures. Many observers were impressed by how far he was able to get in the race even though he didn’t win. His confidence and stamina throughout the race did not necessarily leave him with a true loss. There has been speculation that he will be in the running for the presidential election and he just landed a position as a CNN commentator.

Gillum is notable FAMU alum and there are many opinions about his ethics case, which was in the news in the weeks before the election and may have hurt him enough to be the difference between winning and losing.

Brittany Gardner, a sophomore psychology major, said, “I think he should be more conscious of his actions since he is in the spotlight now, but I don’t think he is guilty of any crimes.”

The accusations are coming from prior trips with lobbyist Adam Corey and others in 2016, before Gillum launched his bid for governor. Tallahassee businessman Erwin Jackson, who filed the complaint last year, alleged that Gillum received benefits from Corey above the $100 limit during trips to Costa Rica and New York. Gillum has denied the allegations, and he has turned over receipts that he says show that he paid his own way during the trips.

Gary Yordon, a syndicated columnist and co-host of a local political talk show, “the Usual Suspects,” has known Gillum for more than 15 years. Yordon even helped him with his first campaign.

He said he thinks Gillum knows that we all have to take responsibility for our actions, and Yordon believes that why things happen are maybe even more important than if they did or not.  “Whether or not he accepted tickets to an event or a boat ride, or lodging with friends I don’t believe in my heart that, that was in exchange for public duties. I think it was Andrew being open and friendly, and being Andrew,” Yordon said.

Gillum’s ethics case is expected to be heard before an independent judge in about 45 to 60 days.

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