(CBrief) – A federal judge has rejected a request from 2018 Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum after lawyers for the accused claim he was selectively targeted. The former mayor of Tallahassee says he believes the only reason he was prosecuted is that he’s black.
As noted by The Associated Press, earlier this year Gillum and a colleague were indicted on federal conspiracy, wire fraud, and other charges that included lying to FBI agents. Federal prosecutors claim that Gillum funneled campaign conditions through third parties back to himself for his own personal use.
“According to prosecutors, Gillum met with undercover FBI agents posing as developers while he was mayor of Tallahassee and during his campaign for governor,” the AP noted. “His associates sought donations from the agents, and suggested ways to provide money without listing them as political contributions, including paying for a fundraising dinner, according to the indictment.”
Gillum has pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming they were politically motivated as he ran against then-GOP gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) December 25, 2022
Last week, U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor called Gillum’s claims that his ethnicity led to his prosecution “meritless.”
“Gillum had asked that the charges be dismissed because prosecutors delayed filing them and he was being prosecuted because of his race and politics. The judge who was appointed by former President Donald Trump said Gillum had offered nothing to support the claim of selective prosecution because of his race or politics,” the AP reported.
Gillum narrowly lost to DeSantis; the GOP governor, however, trounced this year’s Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist, by about 20 points.
After he lost, he was still viewed as a rising star within the Democratic Party and was hired by CNN as a paid contributor. But in March 2020, he was found drunk and unconscious with two men in a hotel room, including one who worked as a male escort. Two days later, he entered a rehab center and, in a subsequent interview, said that he was bisexual.
DeSantis was in a fantastic spot heading into Election Night last month after raising a record-breaking $200 million for his re-election campaign. By comparison, Crist only raised around $31 million, Politico reported. DeSantis has only spent around $100 million on his campaign, which means he still had around $90 million left in the bank.
Politico believes that the extra $90 million could be used for a possible 2024 presidential campaign.
“If you look at where the money is coming from, it’s indicative of Gov. DeSantis being seen by national donors as the de facto frontrunner for president,” Republican lobbyist Slater Bayliss said.
“I think people on the left do not think their candidates sell out, and on the right we think ours cut deals, and are more pragmatic,” he said. “Former President Trump’s whole brand on the Republican side was that he does not sell out.”
“Gov. DeSantis has built on that,” he said, “And is taken more seriously by many Republican donors.”
“It has long been said that ‘money is the mother’s milk of politics,’” Florida Republican consultant David Johnson said. “The DeSantis team has built a national dairy farm to table operation in just four years. We have seen large networked donor operations on a grand scale operate in the past, to some great effect.”
“Team DeSantis is more notable because it is small, fierce and reaping such huge amounts,” he said.
DeSantis has an autobiography coming out early next year, and the timing of its release has turned some heads in the political world.
The book, which documents the popular GOP governor’s rise from a star Little League baseball player to one of the most significant figures in politics, is due out in February, just in time for potential presidential contenders to begin building a war chest and campaign organization ahead of the 2024 election.
The Daily Wire notes:
“The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival,” is expected to detail the 44-year-old leader’s journey from Sunshine State baseball diamonds to Yale, Harvard Law, service in the U.S. Navy, three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, and his current role. While DeSantis has not announced plans to challenge former President Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, books such as this often precede White House bids.