Questions emerge about Bondi endorsement of Trump

Donald Trump in Sarasota
Donald Trump in Sarasota, 28 Nov 2015. By Samuel Johnson / WMNF News.

At a Donald Trump rally in Tampa Monday Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced she is endorsing Trump for President. That has brought up questions about a political donation from three years ago. In 2013 the Donald J. Trump Foundation contributed $25,000 to the political action committee controlled by Bondi the same month her office decided not to follow up on a fraud complaint about Trump University.

Kofi Hunt, a campaign organizer with Awake Pinellas, calls it quid pro quo.

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“It once again connects to what I was saying about her pursuing her own political agenda. I mean, it’s a quid pro quo, she doesn’t investigate him, he donates to her campaign, she endorses him. It’s a clear back and forth reciprocal relationship, purely for political and financial gains. It’s corruption at it’s purest form. The people of Florida deserve better than that. Yeah, I think it’s outrageous.”

The Attorney General’s office said it can’t comment on her political endorsements. But Bondi’s director of media relations Whitney Ray says staff received one complaint about Trump University by the fall of 2013 and the Citizens Services office decided to refer the complainant to the New Your Attorney General’s Office. He says the New York’s lawsuit represented anyone across the country with a fraud complaint against Trump University.

Kofi Hunt doesn’t buy that argument and says Bondi should have done more.

“No. Not at all. There was many people, across this entire country and within Florida, who feel like they were swindled by Trump University and when the people of Florida are being offensed, I think that it’s incumbent upon the legal department of Florida to put out a call.”

The Tampa Bay Regional Chair for Marco Rubio’s campaign for president, Deborah Cox-Roush, declined to comment on Trump’s donation to Bondi but says she’s disappointed in her endorsement of Trump.

“Well, being a Hillsborough resident, and on a personal note, I was disappointed. I was disappointed and I respect Pam Bondi tremendously, we’re what I consider friends. But, I was disappointed in the endorsement. I’m disappointed in the fact that I don’t think Donald Trump stands for women. We heard his comment about Carly Fiorini’s face and there’s been numerous ones. So, I am sometimes offended by him and his stance on women. So, as a woman, I was disappointed in it.”

Cox-Roush says Bondi has been a “good attorney general and has served Florida well” but she thinks Marco Rubio would make a better president than Donald Trump.

“You know Marco’s been working the state and he has Florida’s best interest in mind. I’m not sure Donald Trump does, as a matter of fact, I know he doesn’t. Donald Trump is about Donald Trump. I believe Marco has stood with Florida, he will continue to stand with Florida. And so from that standpoint, one of our favorite sons, it was disappointing.

“Well, we still feel very positive about today. Endorsements are endorsements. We had great endorsements from Adam Putnum and Jeff Atwater and over 80 legislative, grass-roots, elected officials on February 26th. So, when it comes to endorsements, we win that game.”

Bondi may see an endorsement of the Republican frontrunner for president as a way to boost her political future. At least that’s the way Kofi Hunt sees it.

“I think she would really appreciate the appointment to a Trump administration, but, beyond that, I’m certain that she’s going to either try to run for Senator or Governor in 2018.”

Tuesday is the last day to vote in the presidential preference primary. Polls are open until 7:00 p.m. Donald Trump has led by double-digits in recent polls in Florida’s winner-take-all Republican primary.

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