• Truth Test: Florida GOP attack ad is heavy on innuendo, light on facts

    By: Christopher Heath


    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - As Hurricane Michael was bearing down on the Florida Panhandle, the Florida Republican Party released its latest attack ad aimed at Democratic candidate for governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

    The ad samples heavily from news reports about the yearslong FBI investigation into the city of Tallahassee, and in doing so takes several thing out of context to craft a narrative that experts have called “misleading” and the Gillum campaign has said is filled with “malicious falsehoods.”

    9 Investigates reviewed the ad with Dr. Aubrey Jewett, a UCF political science professor, finding very little in the way of verifiable information.

    Truth Tests & Analysis: Go in-depth on Florida's midterm elections

    “Right now there is no evidence that the FBI is investigating Andrew Gillum on any of this,” said Jewett. “It is an attack ad in a political campaign and making assumptions and trying to put Andrew Gillum in the worst possible light.”

    The ad claims Gillum is “running for governor and also from the FBI.” This assertion is false, according to records, because Gillum cooperated with the FBI and has stated several times that he supports the investigation into possible misdeeds within the city and that he has been told he is not a target or a subject of the investigation.  

    In addition, the ad also claims that Gillum took “possible illegal trips with lobbyists” and sent million of dollars of grants to those same lobbyists.  

    While Gillum did take trips, the ad never explains what laws were broken, while also failing to mention that the grants in question were approved by others as well.

    “He did take a trip, there were some allegations that he probably should not have done that and that lobbyists were involved, but the ad really stretches to suggest that he was involved in some illegal behavior,” said Jewett.

    While 9 Investigates was putting the ad to the Truth Test, finding it to be almost entirely without supporting facts, the Gillum campaign was warning TV stations across the state not to run the ad, sending out a cease-and-desist letter.  

    The letter called the ad “demonstrably false,” saying that it had been made with “actual malice.” Despite the letter, Gillum supporters in a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon admitted that the courts were not likely to get involved in the matter.

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