Andrew Gillum’s Forward Florida Political Committee Takes Its Final Breath

Forward Florida, the political committee that once hoped to put Andrew Gillum in the governor’s mansion, won’t be going forward from here. More than four years after the former Tallahassee mayor narrowly lost his bid, the organization has officially disbanded. With almost $40 million raised at its peak, Forward Florida had just over $125,000 at the time of its demise, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

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Why did it take four years to pull the plug?

After Gillum’s razor-thin loss to Ron DeSantis, Forward Florida announced it would repurpose its remaining millions for Democrat outreach and voter registration drives. That mission was short-lived. After Forward Florida outsourced its activist functions to a related PAC, Forward Florida Action, the committee mainly became inactive. Mostly.
Since 2019, Forward Florida has continued to work for Andrew Gillum, but instead of putting him in the governor’s mansion, it is working to keep him out of jail.
Gillum has faced a litany of personal and legal issues since the end of his fated campaign. In January 2019, the Florida Commission on Ethics found probable cause that he violated ethics laws by accepting gifts from lobbyists. A $5,000 settlement largely resolved the complaint. His spiral accelerated in March 2020 when police responded to an overdose call and discovered him unconscious with a male escort and a bag of meth.

Andrew Gillum
Andrew Gillum

“ANDREW DEMETRIC GILLUM did knowingly and willfully make materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements.”

U.S. v. Andrew Gillum

In June 2022, a judge unsealed a federal grand jury indictment against Gillum on charges including wire fraud, conspiracy, and making false statements. Forward Florida is at the center of many of these charges. Gillum had been under years-long investigation for laundering campaign donations through an associate’s company, which were then paid to him directly.

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Throughout his fall from Democrat stardom, Forward Florida has helped cover Gillum’s legal fees. On multiple occasions, the PAC-turned-defense fund has shelled out six-figure attorney fees payments. In December 2019, Florida Forward paid around $240,000 to Gillum’s lawyers, an average of $25,000 per month, according to the Tampa Bay Times. By 2020, expenses reached $700,000 fighting the FBI probe. Its last reported financial transaction was in July when it paid $440,181 to a law firm in Miami. The committee gave notice on December 29 that it intended to disband.

Gillum is scheduled to begin trial on April 17, 2023. U.S. District Judge Allen Windsor expects the case to take two weeks.

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