Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi sought to damper Tuesday the firestorm swirling around her accepting a $25,000 campaign check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation shortly before announcing she would not act on complaints involving Trump University.
Trump this month paid a $2,500 fine to the IRS for the illegal contribution from his charitable foundation to Bondi’s political action committee during her 2014 re-election campaign.
But the larger question of whether the event fits into a pay-for-play scheme Democrats are advancing this campaign season caused Bondi to address reporters before a Cabinet meeting at the Capitol.
“I hate that this is taking away from all the things we could be doing to help people,” Bondi said, adding she is proud of her department&8217;s work on consumer protection, human trafficking and child safety.
Although a growing number of Floridians have come forward saying they lost money or were dissatisifed with the for-profit, unaccredited Trump University, which closed in 2010, Bondi insisted her office had only fielded one complaint — and that did not lead to an investigation.
As a result, Bondi added, she had no second thoughts when asking Trump to contribute to her re-election campaign in 2013. Still, her office was quoted at that time as saying it was considering joining a lawsuit against Trump University that was filed by the New York attorney general&8217;s office, accusing the school of fraud in its real estate seminars.
Bondi&8217;s predecessor, Attorney General Bill McCollum, also a Republican, had earlier received 22 complaints against Trump University but did not act on them, she pointed out Tuesday.
Speaking of the high volume of consumer complaints brought before her office, Bondi defended her decisions.
“These attorneys do their job…if there’s one that’s very serious, we’re going to look at it,&8221; Bondi said.
Bondi also deflected questions about whether she felt her credibility had been damaged with Floridians and whether she would consider resigning before her final two years in office were up.
&8220;I would never, ever trade any campaign contribution…for some type of favor to anyone,&8221; Bondi said, adding that Trump gave significant contributions to Democratic and Republican candidates.
Trump went on in 2014 to host a fund-raiser for Bondi at his Mar-A-Lago estate in Palm Beach and the attorney general, who has endorsed Trump for president, spoke at last summer&8217;s Republican National Convention.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and a separate federal class action civil lawsuit in California alleged that Trump University — largely owned by Trump himself — defrauded consumers by as much as $35,000 each with promises of a real estate investing education that they either did not receive or found to be worthless.
Former Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott also received $35,000 from Trump three years after his office dropped a 2010 proposed lawsuit over the real estate school.