NEW YORK — In an effort to register 1 million new voters in Florida ahead of the 2020 presidential election, failed Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has shifted tactics from using a political committee required to report every expenditure to a private nonprofit that can disclose much less financial data, including the sources of donations.
Gillum’s use of the nonprofit, calling itself Forward Florida Action, is notable given the Florida politician’s warning last February about the influence of “dark money” in his own race for governor, referring to entities that obscure their donors. Gillum is deploying his nonprofit for the voter registration drive instead of utilizing his political committee, Forward Florida.
The Tampa Bay Times first reported on Gillum’s shift in financial tactics, saying:
Gillum moved $500,000 from the political committee to the nonprofit last month, according to campaign finance reports filed Wednesday.
What Gillum does with that money will largely be shielded from public view. Unlike his political committee, which is required to itemize every expenditure and report it to the state each month, the nonprofit does not have to disclose its spending.
Nor will the nonprofit have to account for where it gets its money. The organization’s annual tax documents will be public, but those include far less information and it will be more than a year before they’re made available.
The change came after the Tampa Bay Times reported in May that the FBI had subpoenaed records related to his 2018 gubernatorial campaign. This after Gillum’s time as Tallahassee mayor was tied to an FBI probe into city hall corruption, a federal investigation that involved undercover FBI agents going on trips with Gillum.
Joshua Karp, a spokesperson for Gillum, said the former mayor is using the nonprofit because it “is allowed to directly spend money on voter registration efforts” in a manner that the political committee is not allowed to act.
“That fundraising is going very well, and we’re proceeding with vital investments in progressive infrastructure in this state,” Karp said.
Writing at the Tallahassee Democrat, Bill Cotterell, a columnist and former reporter for the newspaper, opined, “Taking political financing private may be legal, but looks wrong for Gillum.”
Cotterell noted that Gillum’s new financial arrangement means that unlike regular disclosures with his political committee, the nonprofit “files its tax forms annually, which could be a year or more after receiving contributions from special interests and spending money on various political activities. That’s the next best thing to not reporting at all.”
Even if you implicitly trust your leader not to tap into the organization’s piggy bank, even if you know the boss to be honest and dedicated to the lofty goals you’ve set out to attain, wouldn’t you still find it unsettling to be asked not to see the records?
Especially if the leader of your high-minded group is separately being investigated for some unknown financial irregularities, with federal subpoenas for past campaign documents? Especially if he just reached a $5,000 settlement with the Commission on Ethics in an unrelated case involving some lavish vacation travel and unreported goodies given him by lobbyist pals seeking favors from his city while he was mayor?
Gillum on Sunday sent out a mass email from Forward Florida Action seeking small donations to combat President Trump’s plans for winning the Florida vote.
Gillum wrote to supporters:
The only way we can make sure we stop Trump is by beating him here in Florida, and to do that we need to register and reengage a million voters to flip Florida blue. That’s our plan, and it will work no matter how much money they spend here, but only if I can count on your help.
2020: Gillum and Florida
Progressive organizations and the Democratic Party recognize the centrality of Florida for the 2020 presidential election and have been working to deploy a massive ground game to register voters, increase turnout and lobby Floridians against President Donald Trump.
With its 29 Electoral College votes, Florida is the nation’s biggest swing state and is critical to Trump’s path to victory in the upcoming race. If statewide 2016 voting patterns are repeated, the Democratic candidate for president would be able to win the White House by capturing Florida and one other swing state – Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, or Michigan.
A centerpiece of the Democrats’ swing state efforts revolve around a Florida state amendment that was passed last year restoring voting rights for felons, with progressive groups battling efforts to require the state’s nearly 1.4 million ex-felons to first pay civil fines and court fees before registering to vote.
Democrats seek to transform Florida’s current voter map of 4.96 million registered Democrats, 4.7 million Republicans and about 3.6 million voters with no declared party affiliation.
Gillum recently announced his own Florida voter registration initiative committed to registering no less than one million new voters for 2020 while aiming to “evict Donald Trump” from the White House.
“We are going to commit ourselves to registering and engaging one million voters between now and 2020’s presidential election,” Gillum said at a recent event in Miami, addressing his new group which calls itself Bring It Home Florida.
“The road to the White House runs through Florida,” added Gillum. “We can deny Donald Trump a second term right here in the state of Florida.”
“How many states can you say, by themselves, have the ability to deny this man a return to the White House?” Gillum asked. “I can’t think of a bigger, better, more important state than the state of Florida, than for us to send that message.”
This is not Gillum’s first recent association with groups that do not need to full report finances. In April, Gillum joined the board of advisors of The Collective, a little-known but increasingly influential progressive political organization that says it is seeking to build a “black political power” movement and does not disclose its donors.
Billionaire activist George Soros is a direct financial contributor to The Collective.
The Collective was one of the donors central to funding Gillum’s successful primary fight for Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination and then it helped him in the general race where he lost to Republican Ron DeSantis.
Gillum has been closely associated with George Soros-funded progressive groups.
Breitbart News previously reported Gillum served as the director of a radical youth training organization whose mission was to challenge U.S. “predatory capitalism,” abolish the prison system, fight a “spiritual resistance” battle against “Christian hegemony,” redefine the meaning of “borders” while aiding “undocumented” aliens, and enact the “collective liberation” of “communities of color” amid what it described as the scourge of “white supremacy.”
Gillum’s group accused the U.S. of being a “colonialist” power perpetrating “structural violence” and “continued genocide.” It claimed conservatives in the U.S. judicial system were “justifying white supremacist policing practices.”
All of that extremist rhetoric and more was posted on the official “issues” sections of the organization’s website while Gillum not only served as its active director, but while his picture, position and bio were brandished on the same site on the “staff” page.
The organization in question is Young People For, or YP4, one of two youth training groups that Gillum directed and oversaw while he worked at the George Soros-financed People for the American Way, or PFAW, as field organizer in 2002 and then Director of Youth Leadership Programs from 2005 until January 13, 2017. He departed PFAW just ahead of his gubernatorial run.
Also, Breitbart News reported Gillum graduated from an Oakland, California-based training school for progressive revolutionaries that has spawned a list of activists who have gone on to become the who’s who of the far-left leadership world, with many taking senior positions at organizations financed by Soros.
In scores of cases, graduates of the Rockwood Leadership Institute founded or directed notorious Soros-financed activist groups, such as Black Lives Matter, Media Matters for America, MoveOn.org, and the Tides Foundation, one of the nation’s largest funders of progressive groups.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.