Some may have thought it looked bad when Andrew Gillum, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Florida, was photographed passed out naked in a Miami Beach hotel room, a collapse brought on by a reported crystal meth overdose.
But that was so 2020, actually.
On Wednesday, Gillum appeared in federal court in Tallahassee, pleading not guilty to a 21-count indictment to charges involving wire fraud, money laundering, and other financial crimes.
Yet Gillum’s plight encapsulates the plight of the Florida Democratic Party generally, which lately seems ready to topple like their national leader on his bike.
Consider recent news involving some prominent Democrats.
The Free Press recently reported on the revival of Corrine Brown’s political career. COVID-19 helped the former Jacksonville congresswoman elude fulfilling a five-year prison term for fraud.
Prosecutors convicted Brown of guiding tens of thousands of dollars from charities she led and her political campaign into her own pocket.
A federal appellate court recently ordered a new trial, citing the wrongful dismissal of a pro-Brown juror from the first one in 2017, and rather than forcing the 75-year-old through another proceeding, prosecutors accepted a plea deal for one count of tax evasion and $93,000 in restitution.
Then, there is current U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, who five months ago won a special election to take the South Florida seat held by the late longtime Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings.
Florida Politics documented how Cherfilus-McCormick began self-funding her election campaign in 2021 shortly after her healthcare company received $22 million from the state to provide COVID-19 vaccines in poor and disadvantaged areas in her district.
In a nutshell, Cherfilus-McCormick’s company got $8 million of that funding between April 2021 and August 2021. Simultaneously, she and her brother reported $6.2 million in income from two other firms, which they set up just a month before the state money rolled in. She then self-funded her campaign with $6.6 million in candidate loans.
Last week Florida Politics Publisher Peter Schorsch wrote “the recently uncovered level of corruption by Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick is unprecedented.” “It sure looks like the money Cherfilus-McCormick used to buy her seat in Congress came from taxpayer dollars provided by [Gov. Ron] DeSantis’ Office under the guise of helping to get communities vaccinated. The $6.5 million used to fund the congressional campaign amounts to more than 75% of the money Cherfilus-McCormick was given to help poor and disadvantaged people get vaccinated. No other sources of funds have been disclosed as being at Cherfilus-McCormick’s disposal to use for those loans.”
As Schorsch’s team was breaking down that scandal, the Jacksonville media was reporting on Siottis Jackson, a Democratic activist, and operative connected to Brown, turning himself in on a Duval County warrant for identity theft.
Investigators say he stole others’ identities to obtain more than $100,000 in phony bank loans. The allegations follow Jackson’s two previous felony convictions for forging checks and pilfering funds, including $6,000 from an account used to pay for athletic and other extracurricular events at a local high school.
On Wednesday, Florida Politics again uncovered possible Democratic corruption, this time by incumbents in the Florida House.
Republicans allege that 10 incumbent Democrats collectively took in $115,000 in campaign contributions in violation of House rules that prohibit fundraising while the Legislature is in session.
Florida Politics noted that three of them didn’t even need the money since they were re-elected last week without opposition.
To add insult to a self-inflicted injury, the Florida Democratic Party had to officially distance itself from a Democratic National Committee member who praised Sunday’s presidential victory by a former leftist guerilla in Colombia.
Thomas Kennedy declared on Twitter that he was “(r)eally proud of my Colombian friends who chose to turn the page on decades of failed right wing and reactionary governments today. Towards a new and more compassionate future for Latin America!”
The winner of that election Gustavo Petro, was a member of the leftist group M-19, which The New York Times described as “an urban guerrilla group that sought to seize power through violence in the name of promoting social justice.”
In 1985, according to the Times, when Petro was still part of M-19, the rebels fought police and military forces at the nation’s main justice ministry, a battle that left 94 people dead. Petro was reportedly in prison at the time, but his job was to stockpile stolen weapons M-19 could use for its violent sprees.
As Republicans sought to promote Kennedy’s tweet in favor of left-wing militants, the Florida Democratic Party issued a tweet saying he “doesn’t speak for us,” and offered an actual statement by its own chairman, Manny Diaz.