Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is struggling to get his campaign past a looming FBI investigation.
As reported by the Orlando Sentinel:
A mysterious FBI investigation has embroiled Florida’s capital city, jangling the nerves of Tallahassee’s business and political elite and hindering the aspirations of its mayor, who’s running for governor.
As part of a probe into construction deals, thousands of documents from city commissioners and the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency were handed over to federal investigators last month.
Gillum is seen as an up-and-coming star in Democratic politics, a young, African-American mayor of a small but diverse city. He was first elected to the City Council at 23.
But a cloud from the FBI investigation has hovered over his campaign in the early stages of what is already becoming a crowded Democratic primary. Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Winter Park businessman Chris King have declared their candidacies, and Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine and Orlando lawyer John Morgan are publicly mulling campaigns as well.
In an interview with reporters last week, Gillum, 38, said he was told by a federal prosecutor that he wasn’t a target of the investigation. Still, he acknowledged that the probe has disturbed his campaign and he called for the FBI to finish its work swiftly.
“The longer this drags out, I think, the more damaging it is for our community, our community’s reputation, certainly for me not only as a candidate for governor but also as the mayor of this city,” he said. “We’re left to wonder and others are left to speculate — in some cases, wildly — about what’s going on.’’
After raising nearly $500,000 in the first three months of his campaign through May, Gillum has raised less than $150,000 since, including just $48,500 in July for his main campaign account. A political committee backing him, Forward Florida, pulled in more than $428,500 in March, but raised just $10,000 in July.
Republicans have slammed the mayor over his call to speed up the investigation.