Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis certainly isn't wasting any time when it comes to seeking vengeance against the man DeSantis beat in last year's gubernatorial race, Tallahassee's Democrat Mayor Andrew Gillum. The race was ugly and DeSantis got nailed several times by the press for being a racist, but in the end he eked out a win anyway. So when the FBI investigation into Tallahassee's City Hall didn't collar Gillum, DeSantis has decided to go the state route to abuse his power to punish the man who called him a racist on national TV by bringing state ethics charges against Gillum.
The Florida Commission on Ethics found probable cause today that former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor in 2018, violated state ethics laws when he allegedly accepted gifts during on out-of-town excursions with lobbyists and vendors and didn't report them.
The Ethics Commission’s vote happened behind closed doors. But the probable cause finding was confirmed by Gillum’s attorney, Barry Richard of Tallahassee, and Erwin Jackson, a local businessman who filed a state ethics complaint against Gillum in 2017.
Allegations of ethical improprieties over trips Gillum took while he was mayor to Costa Rica and New York City dogged him in the closing days of the general election. Depending on how the case shakes out, the allegations could further tarnish Gillum, whose political aspirations didn’t end with his defeat in the governor’s race to former GOP Congressman Ron DeSantis.
Gillum has the option of entering into a settlement with the Ethics Commission, which typically involves an admission of guilt, or contesting the allegations in a court-like administrative hearing.
Jackson’s ethics complaint alleged Gillum violated state law when he traveled to Costa Rica in May 2016 and New York City in August 2016. Both of the trips overlapped with with attempts by undercover FBI agents investigating public corruption to get close to Gillum.
During the Costa Rica trip, Corey, who later turned against Gillum, sent the mayor a calendar invitation for the two of them to meet with one of the undercover agents, who posed as a developer from Atlanta under the guise of Mike Miller. During the New York City trip, Gillum went on outings with Corey, Miller and at least one other undercover FBI agent, including a boat ride around Liberty Island and a performance of the Broadway hit “Hamilton.”
Gillum’s campaign released documents during the campaign that it said proved Gillum paid for all of his expenses on the Costa Rica trip. Gillum also said his brother, Marcus Gillum, gave him the ticket to “Hamilton” and that he stayed one night with his brother in a downtown hotel where Corey and the undercover agents also had rooms.
After Gillum publicly distanced himself from Corey, a central figure in the FBI’s investigation, their friendship ended in acrimony. Working with Chris Kise, a Tallahassee attorney, Corey released emails calculated to damage Gillum in the closing days of the general election campaign.
It's obvious here that DeSantis is behind the effort to turn the FBI's investigation that so far has cleared Gillum into state ethics charges. DeSantis isn't going to rest until Gillum is behind bars, because the worst thing a black person could ever do to a white racist politician is call them a racist during the campaign and have people believe that's true.