Morgan threatens lawsuit over Gillum’s “slush fund;” Gillum retorts that he doesn’t live on Morgan’s “plantation”
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
John Morgan, the Orlando lawyer and political mega donor who stars in TV ads for the law firm that bears his family’s name, has stepped up a nasty Twitter war with Gillum, the party’s defeated candidate for Florida governor in 2018, over Gillum’s decision to transfer leftover campaign money into a non-profit that doesn’t have to disclose how it spends the money.
How nasty? Morgan signed off one Sunday tweet with, “Thank God for Florida that @GovRonDeSantis won.”
Gillum fired right back: “I don’t live on your plantation and I don’t take advice from Trump impersonators & DeSantis suck ups.”
The fussing between Morgan and Gillum started back in April when Morgan learned that Gillum’s campaign, which received more than $2 million in financial backing from members of his firm, failed to spend more than $3 million in contributions for a race he lost by less than 33,000 votes, which Morgan called “stunning.”
The latest dust-up started with a story on the website Tallahassee Reports that Gillum planned to transfer $500,000 from those leftover campaign funds to a non-profit that is exempt from campaign disclosure requirements.
“Does anyone believe anything that comes out of this dude’s mouth?” Morgan wrote. “Of course it must be in an account that the public and his donors never see. And when will he transfer another $500K? When he spends this first $500K.”
Morgan went on to say, “We need to explore a lawsuit to recover the monies given in trust to @AndrewGillum and now in a slush fund” — no idle threat from the man who runs one of the nation’s largest law firms.
Gillum replied by noting that Morgan had originally backed another candidate in the Democratic primary and had pressured him to drop out in order to prevent former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham from winning.
“You only care about transactions and distractions,” Gillum said, concluding with his observation about not living on Morgan’s plantation.
Morgan — who said he gave $250,000 to Gillum in the closing days of the campaign after Gillum made a plea for funds he didn’t use — called the plantation comment “race bating,” which he said “is what people with something to hide do.”
“I say what I think but I don’t think like Trump,” he said. “Most people are afraid to speak truth to power, especially to those they supported. Not me. Plus I’m too damn old to care.”
A spokesman for Gillum told the Tampa Bay Times that the money was transferred to the non-profit Florida Forward Action because the group can “directly spend money on voter registration efforts,” which his campaign committee could not, although it is unclear why a campaign committee would be barred from registering voters. The spokesman said Gillum would not be paid a salary from the transferred funds.
Forward Florida Action has launched campaign “to register and engage” 1 million voters before the 2020 election.
In addition to his Twitter feud with Morgan, a federal grand jury has subpoenaed records from Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign; it is unclear if or why the campaign might be under investigation or by whom.
Morgan is a longtime Democratic donor on both the state and federal levels who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for statewide office in Florida. However, in 2017, he announced that he was disillusioned with the party and was registering as an independent.
Morgan said that while he would continue to support individual Democratic candidates, he would no longer financially support party organizations, which he said would be “like pissing money down a rat hole.”