TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Former Florida Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum, who came within a whisker of defeating Republican Ron DeSantis in 2018, was acquitted Thursday of lying to the FBI in a corruption case that also involved illegal use of campaign contributions.
But the federal jury hung on charges that Gillum funneled tens of thousands of dollars in campaign money to personal accounts. Prosecutors said they will retry him on those counts. They had claimed Gillum was struggling financially after quitting his $120,000-a-year job with the People for the American Way group to run for governor.
Gillum was acquitted of lying to undercover FBI agents posing as developers who paid for a 2016 trip he took with his brother to New York, including hotel rooms, meals, a boat tour and a ticket to the hit Broadway show "Hamilton."
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Outside the courthouse, Gillum thanked his family, wife, legal team and pastor for their support, but took a dig at prosecutors.
"They have quite literally tried to take everything from us. And the beauty is in our system the powers that be don’t always get to decide. Everyday people like you and me sometimes get our swing at the ball," he said.
Asked about what comes next, Gillum said "sleep" as he walked away from a gaggle of news reporters.
Gillum had faced a potentially lengthy prison sentence if convicted, although, under federal sentencing guidelines, he would have likely gotten far less than the maximum.
The jury came back hung for public relations executive and Gillum adviser, co-defendant Sharon Lettman-Hicks, in the case. Prosecutors said they will also retry her.
Gillum, 43, a former Tallahassee mayor, sought to become the first Black governor in Florida history when he took on DeSantis in 2018. Gillum lost by less than 34,000 votes to DeSantis, triggering an automatic recount.