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Former candidate for Florida governor facing federal charges

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Andrew Gillum was seeking to become the first African-American governor of Florida. His race against Rep. Ron DeSantis was one of the most closely watched in the country.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is facing 21 federal charges related to a scheme to seek donations and funnel a portion of them back to him through third parties.

The U.S. attorney's office announced the indictment Wednesday. Gillum and co-defendant Janet Lettman-Hicks face 19 counts of wire fraud. Gillum is also charged with making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"Every campaign I've run has been done with integrity," said Gillum in a statement. "Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political. Throughout my career I have always stood up for the people of Florida and have spoken truth to power. There’s been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee. They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now”

It’s the latest trouble for Gillum, who narrowly lost to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in a race that required a recount. Gillum was the 2018 Democratic nominee for Florida governor.

"The government got it wrong today," said attorney Mark Elias. "The evidence in this case is clear and will show that Mr. Gillum is innocent of all charges. We look forward to putting this case to rest and giving Andrew and his family peace of mind once and for all".