Ben Crump Is Crowdfunding For Former Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Gillum's Legal Defense

Ben Crump Is Crowdfunding For Former Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Gillum’s Legal Defense

Ben Crump (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

When someone is in trouble, they know who to get on their team.

WFSU reports civil rights attorney Ben Crump has been crowdfunding for Andrew Gillum’s legal defense. The former Tallahassee mayor and 2018 gubernatorial candidate is accused of lying to the FBI and wire fraud in a campaign finance scheme. Gillum and accused co-defendant Sharon Lettman-Hicks, were indicted last June on charges that they illegally pocketed campaign donations.

The 43-year-old allegedly spent the money on lavish trips, including one to New York, where money was spent on hotel rooms, Statue of Liberty boat rides, and tickets to the Broadway show Hamilton. According to Tallahassee Democrat, the charges came about after an undercover FBI probe, Operation Capital Currency, led to prior bribery convictions against former Mayor Scott Maddox, his aide, Paige Carter-Smith, and businessman John “J.T.” Burnette.

Crowdfunding for public figures has grown popular at an eye-raising but effective rate. Former federal prosecutor Timothy Jansen says it opens doors for serious money to be raised. “I’ve seen GoFundMe become more popular recently, probably in the last three to five years,” Jansen said. “I’ve seen some high-profile cases where GoFundMe was utilized to help cover the cost of an expensive trial and try to get really good lawyers to defend them.”

The downside is there is no way to track where the money comes from, especially if gifts are made anonymously, which causes more legal problems.

Gillum’s lawyers, David Markus and Katherine Miller of Miami, requested to unseal a government motion accusing the FBI of using drugs, alcohol, and women to “ensnare” their targets. However, U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor shot them down earlier this week. Prosecutors claim they have no reason to believe those allegations are anything more than agents “conducting an appropriate investigation.”

In an email, Markus thanked Crump and others for their fundraising efforts, with Gillum’s trial set to begin in April.

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