A nonprofit with ties to former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum pushed back on reporting about a prop check to Florida Democrats.
Ryan Hurst, executive director for Forward Florida Action, called a Florida Politics post on the matter “misleading.” While he acknowledged the $100,000 check from the nonprofit handed to Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo was just for show, that doesn’t mean organization chair, Gillum, didn’t provide material support.
The thread was written in response to a tweet by Miami documentarian Billy Corben, who tweeted Gillum “promised more, but NEVER actually donated the money — while he spent $3.7 million ‘slush fund.’”
“The headline says FFA didn’t write a check to FDP, which is true, but it also implies that Andrew left a commitment unfilled, which is false,” Hurst said in a Twitter thread. “The post accurately states that the $100,000 commitment was fulfilled by directly fundraising into the party.”
That was done through direct fundraising appeals by Gillum on behalf of the party, and through donations from a separate Forward Florida political committee.
Juan Penalosa previously told Florida Politics the same thing, but said Forward Florida Action showed up at a press conference with the visual aid in hand.
“Andrew committed $100K and to fulfill that commitment, FF raised the money into the party,” Penalosa said via text. “They did not write a check to us. The check was a prop that the Gillum team brought with them to the press conference. It wasn’t an actual check.”
Hurst said it’s common for fundraising commitments to be met through money donated or raised, the latter meaning a party “agrees to raise funds on behalf of a cause.”
“The press conference and the novelty check were symbolic of Gillum’s commitment to voter registration and were meant to lift up the party and inspire others to invest,” he wrote. “He was acting in his capacity as chair of FFA, which is why the novelty check said FFA on it.”
But Hurst also stressed in the thread that Forward Florida, where he does not work, did make direct contributions to the party.
“The post correctly states that Forward Florida political committee made two donations to the party in 2019, but it does not include contributions to candidates and political committees made in 2019 or 2020 or what was given to the party in 2020,” he wrote.
“In total, between 2019 and 2020, Forward Florida political committee donated $443,000 to the party, candidates, and committees. Of that, $295,000 was made directly to the party. All of this is publicly available on the Secretary of State’s website.”
Of course, the Florida Politics post noted that both organizations were active. But questions have surrounded Forward Florida Action since its creation as a nonprofit rather than a political committee. That means it doesn’t have to file regular campaign reports with the Florida Division of Elections disclosing contributions and expenditures.
In fact, the Florida Politics post spawned after the release of an annual 990 tax form disclosing only financial information from 2019, so similar information about Forward Florida Action’s work in 2020 is not yet available.
Gillum did work on behalf of both Forward Florida Action and the Forward Florida political committee.
“Andrew Gillum — and both of the organizations he chaired — invested deeply in the party and in voter registration more broadly throughout the state. End,” Hurst wrote.