Andrew Gillum PAC now has spent $1 million on legal fees since 2018 election
The political committee set up to finance former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum's unsuccessful bid for Florida governor has spent more than $1 million on legal fees since his defeat, most of which was in connection with a federal subpoena.
Meantime, Gillum has continued to stay out of the public eye after an incident in March. Miami Beach police found Gillum too intoxicated to talk coherently in the same hotel room as a man reportedly overdosing on crystal meth.
Campaign finance reports turned into the Florida Division of Elections on Friday show that Forward Florida, the political committee still chaired by Gillum, a Democrat, spent another $89,000 for legal services from June 1 to June 12. A federal grand jury subpoenaed Gillum's campaign and committee records.
The international firm of Perkins Coie received $65,274 while the Florida-based firm of Stearns Weaver got $23,672 out of the almost $109,000 in reported expenditures.
That leaves Forward Florida with $1.27 million left of a total $38.9 million raised.
Since the November 2018 election, Perkins Coie has received a total of $274,000 and Stearns Weaver has received $764,000 from the Forward Florida political committee.
Perkins Coie has represented the Democratic National Committee and is also the firm of Marc Elias, general counsel to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and lawyer to former Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s 2018 campaign.
Investigators have not disclosed the nature of their inquiry into Gillum. The subpoena asks for records dating back to 2015 — Gillum’s first year as Tallahassee's "leadership mayor" — along with more recent campaign and committee records.
A federal public corruption investigation led to guilty pleas from ex-City Commissioner Scott Maddox and his longtime associate, former Downtown Improvement Authority head Paige Carter-Smith.
Tallahassee developer John "J.T." Burnette was later indicted in the case and has pleaded innocence. His trial is pending.
After his narrow defeat to Republican Ron DeSantis in November 2018 by 33,000 votes statewide, Gillum pledged he would redirect some $3 million left over from the campaign to “flip Florida blue” by registering new voters.
A nonprofit was soon created, Forward Florida Action, which took over the fundraising and voter registration efforts.
After the March hotel incident, Gillum admitted to a drinking problem brought on by depression after the governor's race loss, said he was stepping down from public life and reportedly went into rehab. His representatives have not said which facility he entered.
Gillum has stepped away from Forward Florida Action and is no longer involved in the organization. Ryan Hurst, FFA's former director of programs, has stepped into the role of executive director.
Forward Florida is being run by Rosy Gonzalez Speers although Gillum remains chair on the organization's paperwork, since state law requires the group to have a chair. He is not actively involved, his representatives have said.
He also stepped down as a paid commentator for CNN.
Contact Jeff Schweers at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jeffschweers.