Former Vice President Joe Biden, center, meets Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, left, and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., during a campaign rally for Gillum and Nelson. Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
Florida Democrat and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum might be leading in the polls but he’s in trouble. As mayor of Tallahassee, he seems to have presided over sort of a movable feast of corruption. Running–and electing–profoundly corrupt candidates has never been a major issue for the Democrats. In this election, Bob Menendez, a corrupt grifter and alleged patron of pubescent Dominican hookers, has the full support of the Democrat party. What makes Gillum a bit more vulnerable is that in Florida, Democrat and Republican registrations are at rough parity and Gillum has just got caught in a huge lie.
Dogged by a state ethics commission investigation into trips he took as mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for Florida governor, has insisted that all of his travel was above board, paid for by himself, his wife or his younger brother.
“I don’t take free trips from anybody,” Mr. Gillum said in a debate on Sunday.
But records made public on Tuesday suggest that Mr. Gillum knowingly accepted a ticket to the Broadway show “Hamilton” from men he believed to be businessmen looking to develop property in Tallahassee — but who were actually undercover F.B.I. agents. The records also suggest that a lobbyist friend provided Mr. Gillum and his brother with a hotel room in New York — and possibly paid for much of a vacation the mayor shared in Costa Rica.
Mr. Gillum never reported any of the perks as gifts, as required by law for elected officials in Florida.
In the past, Gillum’s story has been that he got the tickets from his brother and didn’t know where his brother got the tickets.
The fact that he got the tickets from FBI agents is a hint that Gillum is more than a peripheral figure in the seething, effervescing puddle of graft and corruption that was Tallahassee under his rule.
This revelation caught some of the media by surprise, but, like firefighters rushing into a burning building they started asking the really hard questions:
And Andrew Gillum went to the tried and true formula:
CROOK VS. RACIST — Tuesday’s “Hamilton” news is the kind of manna from heaven that struggling candidates like DeSantis, running behind in all of the public polls, need. It gives him the chance to talk about what he wants: Gillum and the allegation that the Tallahassee mayor is corrupt. Gillum didn’t respond with judo as much as jiu-jitsu by essentially counterstriking DeSantis and accusing him and Republicans in general of racism: “All along … they’ve wanted the people of this state to believe somehow I haven’t deserved what I’ve gotten, I’m unethical, participated in illegal and illicit activity. I mean, you name it. The goal is obviously to use my candidacy as a way to reinforce, frankly, stereotypes about black men.” Is this a warmup for tonight’s debate?
Actually, Gillum’s reinforcing stereotypes about city mayors, not about black men. And the fact that he’s been caught in a significant lie about what is definitely unethical behavior which may have crossed the line into actual illegality makes his character fair game for his opponent and for anyone else.
This story, miraculously, hit a just the right time to reach full gestation by Election Day. Then the question is whether Gillum will have been able to play the race card and label his critics as racists in the minds of a majority of Floridians.
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