Donna Deegan, a candidate for Jacksonville Mayor, has returned a donation from Andrew Gillum’s political operation. Other groups started announcing on Friday they too would give money back.
The move comes two days after federal prosecutors indicted Gillum, the 2018 Democratic nominee for Governor, on 19 charges stemming from campaign finance fraud.
While Deegan said she wants due process to play out in court, she’s taking steps to distance her campaign from any scandal around the source of the money.
“In my family, we say ‘when in doubt, do the next right thing,’” Deegan said.
“I believe Andrew deserves the opportunity to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Until we know the outcome, it seems to me the next right thing is to return the contribution from Forward Florida, and we have done so. I very much want to bring trust and transparency back to our city government. That starts with how I run this campaign.”
During the gubernatorial campaign, Deegan has been a strong supporter of Gillum, and expressed to the media she was crushed at his loss to Gov. Ron DeSantis by just over 32,000 votes.
She issued a statement on Wednesday expressing dismay at Gillum’s indictment.
“I was devastated by today’s news about Andrew Gillum’s indictment,” she said.
“As many of you know, I have been a longtime supporter of Andrew, both on the campaign trail and as a friend. While today’s news is heartbreaking and concerning, the spirit of Andrew’s campaign is something I still believe in and am campaigning on today: more inclusion in our community and in every level of elected office, affordable and accessible health care, and economic opportunity for all — not just the chosen few. As we await the outcome of this case, Andrew and his family are in my prayers.”
The Equal Ground Education Fund also returned $25,000 donated by Forward Florida on June 13.
“Equal Ground Education Fund received a $25,000 contribution from Forward Florida to support our C3 non-partisan civic engagement work as the preeminent Black-led voting rights organization in Florida,” said founder Jasmine Burney-Clark. “Since the date of that contribution, we have learned of Mr. Gillum’s indictment and the Political Committee in question. Today we have returned the funds to the political committee. As the judicial process proceeds, we will monitor the outcome of the case.”