Andrew Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee and onetime candidate for Florida governor, has been found not guilty of lying to the FBI.
A federal jury handed down the verdict Thursday, the Miami Herald reports. The jury couldn’t agree on verdicts on 17 counts of wire fraud and one of conspiracy, so Gillum wasn’t convicted on those.
The Democratic politician, who came out as bisexual in 2020, was accused of diverting political contributions to his personal bank accounts during his run for governor in 2018, an action that is illegal. His mentor, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, was accused of that action as well, and the jury likewise failed to agree on a verdict on the charges against her, according to the Herald.
Gillum lost the 2018 election to Republican Ron DeSantis by just 32,000 votes. Prosecutors contended that Gillum diverted the campaign donations because he had left his job with a nonprofit organization to run for governor, losing $120,000 in income. They said he an d Lettman-Hicks conspired to transfer the money to their personal accounts, but the prosecution presented only circumstantial evidence of that, not direct evidence.
Prosecutors said they will be retried on the fraud and conspiracy charges, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. Defense attorneys asked prosecutors to reconsider that decision. Conviction on those charges could bring up to 20 years in prison.
The charge of lying to the FBI arose from a separate incident, in 2016, when Gillum was mayor of Tallahassee. To investigate corruption in city government, undercover agents pretended to be business executives planning a project in Tallahassee. They gave Gillum a ticket to see the Broadway show Hamilton and other gifts. The jury found him not guilty of lying to the FBI about receiving these gifts. If convicted, he could have been sentenced to up to five years in prison.
After the trial concluded in the federal courthouse in Tallahassee, Gillum discussed the difficulties of facing the charges, the Democrat reports. “I think about what it has felt like to, in my opinion, to be hunted for seven years, to have people who you’ve known forever to doubt you, to read things about you that not only don’t resemble the truth but don’t resemble who you are,” Gillum said.
Gillum came out as bi after an incident in a Florida hotel room in which he was found nude and drunk while an associate, Travis Dyson, was being treated for an apparent drug overdose. A photo had circulated of Gillum appearing to be unconscious in the hotel room, and right-wing activist Candace Owens suggested he had been participating in an orgy with other men. He denied this and also said he wasn’t involved in any romantic rendezvous at the hotel.