Fighting back against an ad that portrays Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum as “running for governor and also from the FBI,” the Democrat’s campaign demanded that Florida television stations stop running the 30-second spot from the state Republican Party.
Gillum attorney Glenn Burhans threatened to sue stations that continue to run the ad, which he said “intentionally misstates and contorts facts.” But Gillum’s supporters admit this is more about pushing back on the charges than a genuine legal threat.
In a statement, the Republican Party of Florida, whose candidate for governor is former Rep. Ron DeSantis, says it stands by the content of the ad (watch it here), which began running statewide on Wednesday.
In 2015, the FBI began an undercover investigation of corruption in Tallahassee and has since issued multiple subpoenas. Gillum’s administration has turned over thousands of pages of documents to investigators but has not been named in the subpoenas, and the mayor has been told he is not a subject of the investigation.
In an attempt to draw attention to what it sees as an ad that “constitutes libel and slander,” the Florida Democratic Party organized a press call featuring five current and former prosecutors who denounced its content.
“It’s become abundantly clear that DeSantis has become the ‘do anything, say anything’ candidate to get elected, and it’s very troubling when you look at this ad because it’s so not simply false, it’s insulting,” Miami Beach Mayor and former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Dan Gelber said on the Thursday call.
Another former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Marcos Jimenez, said the ad follows a troubling pattern for the DeSantis campaign.
“For someone to run an ad saying that he’s ‘running from the FBI’ and that he’s corrupt, is just, I think, shameful,” Jimenez said, adding, “DeSantis has made comments in the past that, I think, have racist undertones, and this ad is right along with those.”
When asked by Yahoo News what the chances were that the courts would force television stations to pull the anti-Gillum ad, Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren conceded that it was unlikely.
“I don’t think the courts are going to get involved. I mean this is not an issue for the courts to resolve,” Warren said. “This is a question on the integrity of candidates, and running a campaign based on truth, policies and ideas, rather than on false attacks and the same old dirty political subterfuge.”
According to the latest Real Clear Politics average of polls, Gillum holds a 3.7 percent lead over DeSantis.
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