Questions continue to bounce around 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, as news broke Thursday that a federal grand jury wants information about his campaign and other issues including a charity and a wealthy donor.
The former Tallahassee mayor, who throughout last year’s gubernatorial campaign denied being a target of an FBI investigation into corruption in city government, is the “focal point of a recently issued” subpoena, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The news came as Gillum seeks to use his political committee, Forward Florida, to attract more Democratic voters for the 2020 elections.
The full scope of the federal probe is not known, and being named in a subpoena does not mean a person is under investigation. But prosecutors could be seeking to gather information to present to a grand jury.
The Tampa Bay Times story said prosecutors also want information about Donald Sussman, a hedge-fund manager who donated $1.5 million to Gillum’s bid for governor. Also, they want information related to a Massachusetts-based nonprofit called the Schott Foundation for Public Education, which showed Gillum as a board member on its latest tax records. Prosecutors are also looking for information about John H. Jackson, the CEO and president of that nonprofit.
The subpoena reportedly requested information from Gillum stretching back to January 2015, and it ordered documents to be submitted to the FBI by May 7.
In late April, 11 days before the subpoenaed information was due, Gillum agreed to pay a $5,000 fine in a settlement reached with an attorney for the Florida Commission on Ethics. Under the settlement, the commission would drop four of five charges of ethics violations related to trips Gillum took to Costa Rica and New York with a lobbyist and undercover FBI agents posing as developers.
In January, the commission unanimously found probable cause that Gillum, as Tallahassee mayor, violated state ethics laws for allegedly accepting gifts from Tallahassee entrepreneur Adam Corey.
Next week, the commission is scheduled to take up Gillum’s case again. The settlement reached in late April remains subject to approval by the commission.
KICKING UP SOME DUST OVER SPACE COMMAND
Florida’s congressional delegation continues to pursue answers about why the shortlist of potential headquarters locations for the new U.S. Space Command, or USSPACECOM, failed to include any Florida sites.
In a letter to Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio expressed concern --- on behalf of the delegation --- about a lack of transparency involved in the process.
“It is clear from the poorly managed process leading up to this decision that the Air Force intended to return USSPACECOM to its original headquarters location and status as an unofficial subsidiary of the Air Force,” Rubio wrote. “Of the shortened list of installations being considered, the majority fall within the area where this Combatant Command originally resided.”
In April, the Air Force issued a memorandum that listed six bases as being under consideration, with four in Colorado, Redstone Arsenal in Alabama and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Florida officials had thought Florida should receive the headquarters, given the state’s history as the nation’s gateway to the stars.
Rubio argued that a lot has changed since the original Space Command was established in 1983.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has been one of the leading proponents of Florida housing the headquarters, which is part of President Donald Trump’s grander dreams of a Space Force. DeSantis and Trump have been political allies.
AIR DESANTIS TAKES SHAPE
DeSantis is getting closer to acting on a $91.1 billion budget for next fiscal year --- and a new plane for traveling the state.
The proposed budget includes $3.8 million to spend on a state plane, though the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says it doesn’t want anything too fancy.
“FDLE will not consider accessories or options which are not essential to the operation, safety and efficiency of the aircraft,” the agency said in a 27-page outline of the bid-submission process.
Still, the agency is pretty specific about what it wants in a new mid-sized, fixed-wing business jet.
New means a 2018 or newer model that can carry eight passengers, two crew members and minimal baggage, with a minimum flight range of 1,000 nautical miles. Among other things sought are four executive seats, Wi-Fi and oxygen masks for each passenger.
Training for two FDLE pilots must be included in the bid price. A June 13 deadline has been set for bids to be submitted.
The plane became an issue because former Gov. Rick Scott got rid of the state’s old aircraft. Scott, the wealthiest governor in Florida history, had his own plane.
The FDLE has been using an aging, at times mechanically challenged, King Air the agency got in a surplus sale in 2016.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: “In Jerusalem @GovRonDeSantis inserts a prayer into the Wailing Wall for a safe hurricane season. He also put in a prayer from a little girl from the panhandle who lost her house in Hurricane Michael.” --- Gannett reporter Jeff Schweers (@jeffschweers).