TALLAHASSEE — A Leon County Grand Jury determined Monday the “conduct of (Tallahassee) Mayor Andrew Gillum was lawful” under Florida Statutes in a case concerning the mayor’s use of City of Tallahassee software to send campaign-related emails and correspondence, despite the fact the grand jury also determined the software was used for personal or political purposes.
The State’s Attorney’s Office received a written complaint from a retired law enforcement officer, Paul Henry, on March 2, 2017 alleging Gillum committed grand theft and official misconduct when he used public funds to purchase NGP Van software and when Gillum then used that software for emails pertaining to his gubernatorial campaign.
This matter was investigated by Leon County Sheriff’s Office Detective Tyler Epstein, who turned over his findings to State Attorney Jack Campbell on July 19.
According to Epstein’s findings Gillum did not personally utilize the NGP Van software to send the questionable emails.
The grand jury report said communications were delegated to staff, with Chief of Staff Dustin Daniels possessing the only password to the software.
According to the grand jury report, city employees Jamie Van Pelt, Community Relations Coordinator, and Daniels are the “only persons who ever created or directed the NGP Van software to send any communications using City of Tallahassee funds. “
“No evidence was found to suggest the Gillum directed, or was personally involved, in the decision to send the four political emails or any other communications using the NGP Van system,” the report said.
The grand jury report said it did not find these staffers to be guilty of misappropriation, because there was no evidence they had criminal intent to steal when they used the software to send the emails. They also determined the staff’s use of public property for personal or political reasons and fundraising to be “incidental and insufficient to support criminal prosecution.”
The grand jury did find it “disturbing” that presented evidence suggested that expenditures by the City of Tallahassee’s elected officials are not checked by internal audit or regulation. The grand jury recommended the City of Tallahassee empower “somebody” to oversee and report the spending of elected official’s personal staffs.