An ironic thing happened on the way to the Democratic nomination for governor for Tallahassee’s “ceremonial” Mayor Andrew Gillum.
As Leslie Wimes said the other day in her column, another Democrat got tripped up on an email issue.
And once again, it’s a self-inflicted error.
As a result, a complaint has been filed with 2nd Judicial Circuit State Attorney Jack Campbell, who has asked that new Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil investigate the charge.
Despite the public pronouncement that “I am certain there are no grounds for further action,” in fact, I predict the mayor will ultimately be indicted and removed from office by the governor until such time as he has his day in court.
This will end any chance of this “tax and spend” liberal Democrat being on the Dem ticket.
His chances were essentially nil to begin with, certainly at the top of the ticket, but if someone other than frontrunner Gwen Graham were to be nominated, the mayor could have been a choice for lt. governor.
Now that possibility is out of the window.
Well, this is what happens to some elected officials when they’ve been in office so long their ego and arrogance get the better of them.
So, what happened?
The mayor decided to have the City of Tallahassee pay almost $5,000 to buy software so that he could talk to city residents about city issues.
But, the software cost more than that, so he raided his campaign account and had the campaign pitch in the balance of the money needed.
This should have been a huge red flag for the city’s CFO, because mixing city tax dollars and campaign funds to buy a product is a no-no under any circumstances.
The fact that it was political software bought from a Democratic campaign vendor -- NGP VAN -- that sells the software to contact voters and then track them, should have been the second red flag.
The story gets even better.
Instead of sending emails to city taxpayers about issues important to them, the mayor sent political emails to city taxpayers with “Office of the Mayor” heading on it, his campaign logo, and he used a former campaign post office box address, inviting them to a political event, like when Vice President Joe Biden came to Tallahassee.
To make matters much worse for the mayor, he also used city staff and city computers -- all paid for by the taxpayers -- to send out these political emails, a clear violation of the law.
He also sent the emails to non-city residents such as George Soros’ Open Society entity and to Soros’ family members, and many others who clearly don’t live in Tallahassee, but they are potential supporters of his race for governor -- again, at city taxpayers' expense.
Oh, how easy it is to spend taxpayer monies instead of your campaign dollars.
When confronted by a story in Tallahassee Reports, which uncovered this whole mess, and later the Tallahassee Democrat, the mayor and his chief of staff, Dustin Daniels, lied to the taxpayers about the emails.
They stonewalled them for a week.
Finally, when the Tallahassee Democrat inquired about reimbursing the city the monies used to buy the software, only then did the mayor pay back the money.
Like my friend, Marion Hammer, told me the other day, you can’t rob a bank, get caught, give the money back and expect “no grounds for further action."
There is a penalty for violating the public trust, and the mayor did it repeatedly.
But the mayor still owes taxpayers for city staff time and the use of city computers to mail his self-promoting missives.
And this is someone who should be our next governor?
But, that’s just the beginning of the mayor’s problems.
Last year, he spent over $400,000 hiring eight aides to help him do his job.
Why so many?
Because he was too busy working for an organization funded by liberal ideologue George Soros to do his mayoral duties.
Most mayors have had one or two aides. But eight? At a cost to taxpayers of over $400,000?
Then the mayor led the effort to raise the property tax rate in the city.
When confronted by two groups in 2015 -- Citizens for Responsible Spending and the Budget Hawks -- who proved that cuts in expenses could fill the approximate $7 million budget hole, the mayor refused to listen and rammed the tax increase through the City Commission.
Later that same year, the city posted a $17 million budget surplus. Go figure.
When I looked up the definition of a liberal “tax and spend” Democrat, there was the mayor’s picture.
Other campaign violations have been publicized, like the production of a campaign video before he had a campaign account. The mayor is in serious trouble.
This is not just a stumble, it’s a monumental legal problem, and the mayor will ultimately pay the price. He shot himself in both feet.
Even if he’s lucky enough to somehow avoid prosecution, his star is now falling and I predict he will be forced to drop out of the governor’s race. Karma always seems to catch up with those who deserve it most.
Barney Bishop III is a former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party and a self-professed conservative Democrat.