Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum has been an outspoken critic of corporate and dark money in politics, warning that it could start flowing into Florida to silence voters. But in the wake of his primary victory Tuesday night, his political action committee accepted $1 million from the Democratic Governors Association.
Gillum, who was endorsed by democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) earlier this month, said last August he would not be "accountable to corporate money and special interests." He also said there should be less corporate money in politics and that Citizens United should be overturned, referring to the 2010 Supreme Court case that ruled corporations can spend unlimited money on political campaigns.
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Stephanie Taylor, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, praised Gillum last month for his "long record of fighting corporate money in politics."
In response to Gillum's primary victory, however, the Democratic Governors Association announced Thursday it had invested $1 million to Gillum's political action committee, Forward Florida.
"Winning the Florida governor’s race is a top priority for the DGA this year," DGA Executive Director Elisabeth Pearson said. "This significant investment will help Mayor Andrew Gillum build off his inspiring primary victory and continue spreading his positive message across Florida. Andrew Gillum’s historic candidacy gives Floridians the opportunity to expand access to healthcare, fund public education to provide opportunity for every child, and diversify and grow Florida’s economy."
The DGA has raised millions of dollars in dark and corporate money over the years, money that is now being injected into Gillum's PAC. Dark money refers to funds given to nonprofit organizations or PACs that can receive unlimited donations from corporations, individuals and unions, and the donor is not disclosed.
This is not the first time Gillum's PAC has accepted money from a dark money group. Earlier this year, Forward Florida accepted at least $266,000 from nonprofit Collective Future, the 501(c)(4) arm of the group that served as Gillum's largest contributor in 2018. The Washington, D.C.-based group does have an associated PAC and super PAC that are required to disclose its donors, but Collective Future is not required to do so.
Quentin James, the founder and executive director of The Collective PAC, told the Tampa Bay Times the organization is a "grassroots led and funded organization," but he did not mention some of the biggest donors include liberal billionaire George Soros, ACTBLUE, the Priorities USA and Planned Parenthood.
Gillum gave an interview on the "Strange Days" podcast in Miami back in June where he was asked about The Collective Super PAC, Politico reported. He stopped short of condemning the group for not disclosing the main source of a lump-sum payment of $742,720 and instead welcomed them to advertise on his behalf instead of focusing on trashing Gwen Graham, one of his opponents in the Democratic primary. The Collective previously said it would spend as much as $1.5 million in Florida.
"I want them to begin advertising on my behalf. I want them to put up ads that have me in it. I want them to talk about what my record has been in this race," Gillum said. "When they start doing that, then that will be real support for me."
"I want them to disclose who’s helping them to begin advertising on my behalf. I would love for them to disclose. That would be my ask if they are listening," Gillum continued. "I want them to do what their mission requires them to do, which is to support candidates of color running for office and get them elected."
The Republican Governors Association slammed Gillum, calling him a "hypocrite" and saying his hypocricy is why Floridians can't trust him to be the next governor.
"By accepting the DGA’s $1 million contribution, Andrew Gillum is proving to voters that he’s a hypocrite who only attacks corporate and dark money in politics until it benefits him," said RGA communications director Jon Thompson. "This is just another example of why Floridians can’t trust Andrew Gillum."
In addition to the outside groups, Gillum's PAC has accepted over $1 million from Soros and over $1.4 million from liberal billionaire Tom Steyer and his NextGen America PAC.
Gillum will face Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) in November's general election.