Fomer Pasco Sheriff running in Volusia County
Former Pasco Sheriff Jim Gillum, rejected overwhelmingly by local voters in three successive campaigns, is seeking the office of sheriff of Volusia County.
The Daytona Beach News Journal reported Gillum, 72, a 10-year resident of Volusia County, is the sixth candidate to file papers to run after Sheriff Ben Johnson announced his retirement.
Pasco voters elected Gillum, a Republican and former Tampa Police sergeant, as sheriff in 1984 after then-Gov.. Bob Graham removed from office Sheriff John Short, who had been indicted on criminal charges.
Short, a Democrat, was later cleared, but he lost an attempt to regain the seat in a head-to-head election against Gillum in 1988. Gillum’s political fortunes turned four years later when the two-term incumbent received just a third of the vote Republican primary. He ran again unsuccessfully in 1996 and 2000.
Gillum’s tenure was filled with controversies including:
• Revelations his 1984 campaign received a $100 contribution from the wife of a convicted drug trafficker. Gillum told the News Journal this week that he had no relationship with drug smuggler Joseph Valverde and that the contribution came from Valverde’s wife, Lee Knight Moffett, who was acquainted with Gillum’s wife at the time.
• Gillum’s free use of a rental van from a car dealer three weeks after he gave he car dealer a $770,000 contract for the purchase of 71 sheriff’s vehicles.
• His hiring of his girlfriend for an unadvertised job as a legal assistant and then promoting her to staff attorney.
• A state investigation of the activities in his personnel office amid a hiring frenzy of new employees in anticipation of the 1990 Land O’ Lakes Detention Center opening. The state didn’t file charges, but uncovered record tampering by the personnel office.
The state probe came after Gillum’s department offered employment to people without completed background checks. Within a six-month period, 11 workers resigned or were fired after the Sheriff’s Office learned they had prior disciplinary problems at other police agencies, criminal charges and a failed polygraph test.
After leaving office 24 years ago, Gillum couldn’t escape legal entanglements. He lost his driver’s license for a year over allegations of unpaid child support and he was arrested on a charge of writing a worthless check to his landlord. Prosecutors later dropped the bad-check charge.
His announced candidacy stunned his former political colleagues in Pasco County.
“No,’’ said Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano, a political ally of Gillum’s in the late 1980s. “Oh my gosh, God bless him. But, let the people of Volusia decide whether they want him to be sheriff or not.’’
“I have to admire his grit,’’ New Port Richey Police Chief Kim Bogart said after several moments of silence. Bogart served as a major in Gillum’s administration and remained a high-ranking officer in the department under Gillum’s successor, Lee Cannon.