Monday, November 20, 2017
Politics

PolitiFact Florida: Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum overstates campaign donors

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Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum says he outperformed his rivals for Florida governor in a key fundraising metric despite having less name recognition and taking time off from the campaign.

His campaign issued the following statement to media under the headline, "Gillum Leads Gov. Field in Donors, $1.2M Raised YTD," on June 9:

"Our campaign was thrilled for the mayor's family to welcome their third child last month, and he took some well-deserved time off the campaign trail. We're excited to have more than 7,000 contributors, the most in the race, and we're raising the resources to compete in all 67 counties.

"The mayor doesn't have a famous last name or personal wealth, but we're proud to have the support of thousands of Floridians."

Gillum, the first major candidate to enter the 2018 governor's race, wasn't claiming to be the fundraising frontrunner in terms of dollars through May. Republican Adam Putnam has raised the most overall, and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham has raised the most of the Democrats.

Gillum has raised about $1.1 million, excluding in-kind contributions: almost $500,000 for his campaign account and $600,000 through his Forward Florida PAC.

Gillum was isolating the number of donors, often cited by campaigns as a measure of grass roots support.

Gillum has a point that he has more donors. But his count is exaggerated.

We looked at individual contributions to Gillum's campaign and his Forward Florida PAC.

At a glance, Gillum's point nearly checks out, with a combined total of 6,933 contributions between both the campaign and the committee.

The problem: Several people gave multiple times.

By removing individuals who donated more than once, we got a much smaller number.

We found 5,383 unique names on individual contributions and 70 on Florida Forward PAC for a combined total of 5,453 donors. (The total includes a few donors who gave in-kind contributions as well for food and beverages.)

We counted nine donors who gave money to both Gillum's account and the PAC, including actor Jane Fonda and Allison Tant, the former Florida Democratic Party chairwoman. Take out people and entities who gave to both the campaign and committee, and the donor count goes down to 5,444.

Other donors gave multiple times in small increments. For example, Marilyn Bailey, a Sanford resident, gave 10 times in amounts ranging from $5 to $20.18.

We sent those numbers to spokesman Geoff Burgan and asked how the campaign arrived at "more than 7,000" donors.

"Our campaign has 6,933 total contributions from more than 5,300 people across Florida and the country," Burgan told PolitiFact in an email. "After further reviewing our in-kind contributions, we realized we slightly misstated the total in our press release."

Gillum has raised more individual donations than leading competitors. But his donor total was substantially wrong because he counted several donors more than once.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

Times senior researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Read more rulings at PolitiFact.com/Florida

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