Florida A.G. Pam Bondi: Why Return Donald Trump's Money? The Check Cleared, Didn't It?

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After several weeks of avoiding taking any questions from the press about how her good friend Donald Trump gave a $25,000 campaign donation in 2013 -- by complete coincidence, just before her office dropped an investigation of Trump University -- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi held a press conference Tuesday to explain that she and Trump's money are merely very good friends, and that nothing inappropriate happened between the money and her political action committee, "And Justice For All."

"I just knew there was nothing improper," Bondi said. "I will never let money from anyone affect what I do. I'm proud of my office. I'm proud of the work that we do."

There was no reason for her to have returned the contribution, Bondi said, because that might have looked bad:

"If I had returned it, you would have reported, 'Bondi accepted bribe, got caught, and returned it,' " she said. "There was nothing improper about it, so there was no reason to return it."

Well, then, guess that's all there is to it! Bondi apparently didn't give any thought to how it looked that she kept the money, because heaven knows that looked just fine to her. Or the check did, maybe.

Was there indignant spluttering? There was!

"I would never, ever trade any campaign donation -- that's absurd -- for some type of favor to anyone," Bondi said.

In our ideal fantasy version of the presser, Bondi would have followed this by adding, "This is, after all, the great state of Florida! How dare you insinuate such a thing!" while reaching behind her back to accept an envelope stuffed with cash.

After disclosures that the $25,000 donation was illegal because it had been made by the Trump Foundation, not by Trump himself, the head of "And Justice For All," Nancy Watkins, tried to return the money to the Trump Foundation, but the check was refused, and the foundation called Watkins to tell her everything was fine since Donald Trump had repaid the foundation for the donation.

Also fun: Bondi couldn't quite recall how long she and Donald Trump have been exceptionally close friends and political allies, but mutual admiration was definitely the only reason she'd have had for asking him for a contribution:

Asked how she met the celebrity, Bondi gave a variety of answers that had one common thread: She wasn't sure. She said she thinks she met him "in college" but that she "didn't know him well at all," then said she "probably" met him in New York, where she was a contributor for Fox News.

She also said that Trump, a part-time Florida resident, might have reached out to her after seeing her prosecute a high-profile murder case while working as an assistant state attorney in Tampa. She did not identify the case and reporters did not pursue it.

Oh, OK, now that last one sounds like a possibility, given Donald Trump's longstanding interest in pursuing justice.

Bondi also insisted that at the time she asked Trump for money, she'd never even heard of Trump University, and the decision to not pursue an investigation into the scammy fraud real estate seminar ripoff was made by underlings. However, as the Tampa Bay Times notes, that was no longer the case when Trump helped out Bondi again a few months later:

Trump hosted a fundraiser for Bondi at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach in March 2014 that raised an estimated $150,000 for her re-election — five months after she said she learned about the Trump University controversy.

Asked by a reporter Tuesday if she feels that her "credibility is shot" with Floridians, Bondi said: "I hope not."

She dismissed outright a suggestion that she consider resigning from office.

So there.

Besides, said Bondi, her office only received one complaint about Trump University -- by then rebranded as "Trump Institute" and on the verge of going out of business -- after she became attorney general. This sort of ignores the 22 complaints filed against the seminars before she took over, which had not been acted on. Before her time, not her job.

To put into perspective how many complaints come into the Florida A.G.'s office, Bondi had a deputy compile a total of all complaints the office had received since she took office in 2011: about 800,000 in various formats, and gosh that's a lot:

To provide context, Bondi disclosed a dozen complaints over the past four years against the Tampa Bay Times.

None of those reached her desk, either, she said.

"Those were all handled on a staff level," Bondi said. "That's how it gets handled."

See? People complain about all sorts of stuff, and you can't expect a busy attorney general to personally monitor every little whiner who lost a buttload of money buying a useless set of real-estate seminars from the attorney general's very good friend Donald Trump. Who gave her money.

We're not sure Bondi's point really sank in for Times reporter Steve Bousquet, who notes:

Most of the Times complaints involved no more than $100 and as little as $5, mostly over subscriptions or promotions. Bondi did not provide details on how those complaints were resolved. Claims against Trump University reached into the thousands of dollars, but were not investigated.

That may not be the point about "perspective" Bondi intended.

[Tampa Bay Times / Crooks & Liars / Image: Kristen Clarke, Tampa Bay Times]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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