Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis blasted his former political rival Andrew Gillum Thursday, saying the newly indicted politico was given pampered coverage during 2018 gubernatorial contest despite having “issues under the hood.”
“I would ask a lot of the media that propped him up whether they have any type of mea culpa on that,” he said after being asked about the charges at an unrelated press conference. “There were clearly a lot of issues there. If you looked under the hood you saw it.”
Gillum and an associate were hit with a 21-count federal indictment Wednesday charging them with misuse of campaign contributions.
Gillum, the former Tallahassee mayor, and Sharon Lettman-Hicks allegedly rerouted donations to personal accounts and disguised them as payroll payments, federal prosecutors said.
Gillum faces up to 20 years in prison for the top count against him.
“What was presented to the public was that this guy was the second coming,” DeSantis said. “If I had not won in 2018 this state would be in a much worse shape.”
Once considered a future Democratic star in Florida, Gillum narrowly lost to DeSantis by just 30,000 votes after a bitter campaign.
Gillum, who is married with kids, was later found in a Miami Beach hotel room with a male escort and drugs in 2020. He cited his distress over the gubernatorial defeat and increased reliance on alcohol in explaining the incident.
Meanwhile, DeSantis skirted around a question about a potential presidential run in 2024, telling reporters that he was focused on getting re-elected to his current post in November.
The polarizing Republican has emerged as a GOP star in recent months, with speculation growing that he could square off against former President Donald Trump in a tussle for party supremacy.