Andrew Gillum, a once-rising Democratic star who nearly won a 2018 race for Florida governor, was indicted on Wednesday along with a close political ally on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements.
According to a news release from the United States attorney for the Northern District of Florida, Gillum and a longtime associate, Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks, are accused of making “false and fraudulent promises and representations” related to money that they had received from 2016 to 2019. The money was diverted to a company owned by Lettman-Hicks and then funneled to Gillum for personal use, the US attorney’s office said.
Gillum and Lettman-Hicks face 21 charges, according to the news release. Gillum, a former CNN political commentator, is scheduled for an initial appearance at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday at the United States courthouse in Tallahassee, where he resides.
In a statement released before the government announced the charges, Gillum declared his innocence and suggested the case against him was political.
“I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people,” Gillum said in the statement. “Every campaign I’ve run has been done with integrity. Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political. Throughout my career I have always stood up for the people of Florida and have spoken truth to power.”
The release also included a joint statement from Marc Elias, a prominent elections attorney, and David Oscar Markus, a Miami criminal defense lawyer, who said, “The government got it wrong today.”
The allegations cover a time when Gillum was a candidate for Florida governor. He eventually became the party’s nominee in August 2018, but lost to Republican Ron DeSantis that November by less than 33,000 votes.