With under 70 days before Election Day, Andrew Gillum‘s political continues shoveling most of its money into the pockets of lawyers instead of the registration of voters.
This month, the former Democratic gubernatorial candidate’s political committee spent another quarter-million dollars on legal counsel. The shift has come during a stunning fall from grace for Gillum, who came within recount distance of winning the Governor’s mansion but whose personal problems now land him in headlines more often than politics.
Since Election Day 2018, Gillum’s Forward Florida political committee spent $1.4 million on various legal services. That included three payments totaling $253,000 in the first three weeks of August. Combined with another a second $53,000 paid to Perkins Coie on Aug. 14, that marked the most fees paid to a firm in a one-month period.
The largest of the bills this month was $175,000 paid to Perkins Cole on Aug. 21. The committee has spent that much on legal fees in the past, paying Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler $191,000 in November 2019. The third payment was $25,000 made out to Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler also on Aug. 14.
Previously, the most that the political committee spent on legal fees in a single month was $241,000 in November 2019.
At that moment, the committee was under fire for not directing more of its assets toward registering voters. Forward Florida officials at the time said more than 100,000 voters had been registered by the political committee, but Gillum after his gubernatorial loss spoke about registering 1 million new voters before the presidential election.
But since that point, personal scandal rocked Gillum’s public image. In March, Gillum entered rehab for alcohol abuse after being found inebriated in a hotel room where someone else was passed out from a suspected drug overdose. In a video posted to Instagram last month, the former Tallahassee Mayor reflected on his depression following the 2018 gubernatorial election.
Since March, contributions to the committee have frozen, but it continues paying operating fees and the occasional donation. Since January, the committee has made three contributions — $232,000 to the Florida Democratic Party, $50,000 to the Florida For All political committee and $10,000 to Senate Victory.
Through Aug. 21, $906,000 remain in the political committee’s coffers.
Notably, Forward Florida went into Election Day in 2018 with more than $3 million still in the bank — a remarkable sum considering the gap between him and now-Gov. Ron DeSantis was a mere 33,000 votes, or 0.41%.
The lack of eleventh-hour spending enraged some of Gillum’s most prominent donors, including Orlando attorney John Morgan.
In the 12 months following the election, Forward Florida, which the former Mayor still chairs, spent $1.5 million between campaign contributions, consulting fees and legal fees.