Now that the midterm elections of 2018 are behind us, CNN has made an interesting choice when hiring a new political commentator: Andrew Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee who lost a tight race for Florida governor to Republican Ron DeSantis in November. Then again, it's not all that surprising given that it is CNN we're talking about.
The selection is made all the more curious since the Florida Commission on Ethics has found Gillum as having "probable cause" regarding five counts of ethics violations for allegedly accepting gifts while traveling with lobbyists. That investigation is said to be “moving forward.”
Gillum announced the decision on Tuesday, when he tweeted: “Thrilled to be joining @CNN as a political commentator.”
Later that day, he posted: “Great to be on @CNN with @ChrisCuomo tonight. See you bright and early tomorrow on @NewDay!”
However, the Tampa Bay Times's Elizabeth Koh reported that state officials have not publicized the details in Gillum’s case even after a court hearing on Friday resulted in a decision to move the matter before an administrative law judge.
While noting that the finding “is not in and of itself a determination of guilt,” Koh stated:
Tallahassee businessman Erwin Jackson filed the complaint last year, alleging that Gillum, who was the Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 election, accepted gifts worth more than the $100 limit set by the state while in Costa Rica and New York City with his former friend, lobbyist Adam Corey, prior to his gubernatorial campaign.
“This is a victory for the good ones,” Jackson said after the private hearing, which Gillum did not attend.
The trips in question occurred during an FBI investigation into public corruption in Tallahassee, and both became flash points during the Democrat’s unsuccessful run for governor.
“Gillum initially reported that he paid all the expenses on each trip and claimed that Corey had misled him,” Koh noted.
“We’re going to have a full evidentiary hearing before an independent judge. It’ll be open to the public, and everybody can decide for themselves,” Barry Richards -- Gillum’s lawyer -- said. “There for sure will be no settlement.”
During his first CNN appearance (which he made on Cuomo Prime Time), he stated that he was “confident that as we move through this and as a judge looks at the facts, they will determine that I have acted in complete compliance with the law.”
However, that situation drew the attention of Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell who began an article with the phrase: “Politics is weird.”
“There aren’t many other professions where probable cause findings are followed by job offers,” Maxwell noted before stating that “it’s not unusual for politicians with past controversies to get TV gigs.”
He then wrote:
Regardless of how this turns out, the optics here stink. Most of us pay for our own vacations and show tickets without any involvement of lobbyists.
Elected officials shouldn’t travel with or take anything from lobbyists, period.
As NewsBusters previously reported, Gillum’s addition to CNN came a week after the liberal network hired former Ohio governor and staunch Trump critic John Kasich as a senior contributor. Of course, the media would love it if Kasich ran against Trump in 2020. In the meantime, he’ll likely be a welcome addition to Gillum and the network’s lineup of fake conservatives including Mia Love, Ana Navarro and Tara Setmayer.