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Ron DeSantis hits Andrew Gillum on donors subpoenaed by FBI

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis hasn’t been shy in attacking his Democratic opponent about the ongoing FBI investigation in Tallahassee.

The latest strike? The DeSantis campaign is calling on Andrew Gillum to return more than $75,000 in campaign donations from those who’ve been subpoenaed in the course of the more-than-three-year-long investigation into Tallahassee’s city government.

While no charges have been filed, the DeSantis campaign considers the subpoenaed donors and businesses linked to them as “tied to the FBI investigation.”

“Records show that Gillum has received contributions from 36 of the 40 named subjects of the FBI investigation,” Stephen Lawson, DeSantis’ communications director said. “These new facts continue to link Andrew Gillum to the FBI’s investigation.” 

Lawson suggested the donations, which date back to 2004, implicate Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee who has not been named by the feds in any public documents related to the investigation.

The Gillum campaign did not return a request for comment.

Most of the donations listed by the DeSantis campaign are old. A $500 donation from Pittman Law Group on August 11 into Gillum’s committee is the latest listed.

That contribution, like most, is unlikely to be returned. Pittman Law Group owner Sean Pittman is the senior strategic adviser for Gillum’s campaign. He isn’t named in any subpoenas. He is listed by the DeSantis campaign because he invested in Cascades Holdings, a company formed by Adam Corey, a local lobbyist at the center of the investigation.

Corey is also a Gillum donor, although his last donation came before news of the FBI investigation broke last year. Gillum has since publicly cut ties with Corey.

News of the investigation was first unearthed by the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper in June 2017.

The Florida Democratic Party did not address the hit directly, but issued a news release on Monday highlighting controversial donations to DeSantis. Among them: $20,000 from Steven Alembik, who called former President Barack Obama the N-word on Twitter. The Associated Press reported in September that DeSantis would not return the money.

“DeSantis should return the money from his shady and racist Trumpworld donors and start being honest with the people of Florida about his relationships with some of the most toxic people in American politics,” charged FDP spokesman Kevin Donohoe.

Written By

Danny McAuliffe is a Tallahassee correspondent for Florida Politics. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as the editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau. He is a lifelong Floridian and indulges in swimming, hiking, running and memes when the news cycle permits. Reach him at dmcauliffe500@gmail.com.

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