Ethics complaint against Andrew Gillum will proceed

An ethics complaint against former Florida gubernatorial candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum will proceed after the state ethics commission found probable cause at a hearing Friday that he had accepted gifts, Gillum’s lawyer confirmed.

Gillum faced six counts related to soliciting and accepting gifts — including rental accommodations in Costa Rica, a boat ride to see the Statue of Liberty and tickets to see the Broadway musical “Hamilton” in 2016 — Gillum’s attorney Barry Richard told CNN.

“There’s conflicting testimony as to what happened,” he said.

At the hearing, the Florida ethics commission advocate considered the facts of the case and “recommended no probable cause on the account for soliciting gifts, and she recommended probable cause on the remaining counts, which were accepting gifts that exceeded $100,” Richard said.

Florida law bans state officials from accepting gifts worth more than $100.

Tallahassee businessman Erwin Jackson filed the complaint against Gillum in October 2017 as part of his efforts to expose corrupt state politicians, he told CNN in an email after the hearing.

“I am relieved that with the help of the FBI these politicians will be held accountable for their self serving and criminal actions!” he wrote.

The charges overlap with an FBI investigation that haunted Gillum’s campaign for the governorship, which he ultimately lost to Republican Ron DeSantis in November. The probe examined whether out-of-town developers influenced city planning projects. Gillum has stated publicly that the FBI informed him that he was not a focus of the investigation.

Richard said he expects an initial announcement of the hearing’s findings on Wednesday, at which point he will request a public evidentiary hearing for likely between 45 and 60 days.

Gillum did not attend Friday’s closed-door hearing, Richard said, but he “will definitely be attending the evidentiary hearing and he will be testifying at it.”

Richard said Gillum would not consider a settlement.

“He will not settle,” he added. “He actually welcomes the public hearing.”