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Jussie Smollett, Ben Crump among September donors to Sybrina Fulton campaign

Fulton secured endorsements last month from Hillary Clinton and Cory Booker.

Following a pair of big-time endorsements of her campaign, Miami-Dade County Commission candidate Sybrina Fulton courted more than $11,000 in donations during the month of September.

That marks the second-highest fundraising total of her campaign for the District 1 seat.

The boost comes after Fulton’s run was backed by former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker. But Fulton still lags well behind the fundraising pace of her opponent, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III.

Among Fulton’s September donor list are Tallahassee lawyer Benjamin Crump and actor Jussie Smollett. Both contributed $1,000 to Fulton’s campaign, maxing out their donations.

Crump’s contribution is no surprise. After Fulton’s son, Trayvon Martin, was killed in 2012 during a confrontation with George Zimmerman, Crump represented Martin’s family. He’s also taken on other cases with civil rights implications, such as the shootings of Tamir Rice and Corey Jones.

Smollett, who appeared on the show “Empire,” was thrust into the national conversation after he was accused of staging a hoax attack on himself in Chicago. Smollett claimed two men ambushed him at 2 a.m. in Chicago, yelling “MAGA country” and placing a noose around his neck.

But as police investigated the event, they came to believe Smollett had set up the incident as a hoax. Two brothers, who had a previous relationship with Smollett, were suspected as the two individuals who allegedly attacked Smollett. Police say Smollett coordinated the attack with the brothers beforehand.

Smollett eventually faced 16 felony counts surrounding the alleged false report. Those charges were controversially dropped, but prosecutors maintained they believed the allegations that Smollett manufactured the event. A special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate the decision to drop those charges.

Among the other notable donors in Fulton’s September report are writer Bakari Kitwana and filmmaker Michael Skolnik. Both donated the full $1,000 to her campaign.

Fulton’s report also contains a refund of a $100 donation from Zion Hill Baptist Church Truth.

That donation was made in August. But state campaign finance law says candidates “may not solicit contributions from any religious, charitable, civic, or other causes or organizations established primarily for the public good.” Miami-Dade County has mostly adopted the state laws regarding campaign finance, with some exceptions.

Gilbert’s September numbers were not available as of this posting. But he’s earned more than $340,000 since January. Fulton entered the race later, in May, but has only earned just over $40,000, leaving her trailing Gilbert in the per-month fundraising pace.

That gap could close if the Clinton and Booker endorsements continue to attract nationwide attention to Fulton’s campaign.

Commissioner Barbara Jordan, whom the duo is seeking to replace, is term-limited in 2020. She is a longtime political ally of Gilbert’s.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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