Pam bondi Archives - Florida Politics

On Fox’s ‘Hannity,’ Pam Bondi suggest that Robert Mueller ‘corrupt’ probe ‘worse than Watergate’

Count Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi among the increasing number of Republicans who are blasting special counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russian probe for being rife with partisan bias.

Bondi appeared on Fox News “Hannity” program Wednesday night as part of a panel discussion with host Sean Hannity and Sebastian Gorka, a former Donald Trump deputy assistant hired by Fox as a commentator.

It was time to get “all of these other people off the case,” Bondi said, referring to eight prosecutors on Mueller’s team who were identified as giving campaign contributions to Democrats.

For weeks, conservative media outlets accused Mueller’s team of investigators of bias because of the campaign contributions to Democrats. Panhandle U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz is charging that the former FBI director’s team was “infected with bias” against the president, claiming the investigation puts the country at risk of a “coup d’etat.”

Several more congressional Republicans are sharing similar sentiments, many of them grilling Rod J. Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, Wednesday and calling to appoint a prosecutor to investigate Mueller’s investigation.

Their campaign was given legs when the Justice Department released hundreds of text messages exchanged last year between FBI agent Peter Strzok and an FBI attorney, Lisa Page, describing a possible Trump presidential victory as “terrifying” and saying that Hillary Clinton “just had to win.”

“God(,) Trump is a loathsome human,” Page added in a text; Strzok replies: “Yet he may win.”

Mueller removed Strzok from the Russian investigation upon being informed of those texts.

“They need to be dissolved, and they need to be investigated,” Bondi charged. “This team needs to be wiped out.”

At Wednesday’s congressional hearing, Rosenstein pushed back against the criticism that members of Mueller’s team could not be impartial prosecutors because they’d donated to Democrats. And he beat back repeated calls to select a second special prosecutor to investigate Mueller, saying that there is currently an inspector general with a 500-member staff and a $100 million budget already in place to review investigation.

Later in the show, Bondi agreed with Hannity that the level of corruption inside Mueller’s team was “worse than Watergate.”

“This is worse than Watergate, on a million levels here,” Hannity said.

“I agree,” Bondi interjected.

“By the time we entangle this massive web of corruption, it will be worse than Watergate,” Hannity repeated. “Watergate on human growth hormone and steroids combined at massive levels.”

“And you’re the one who had to untangle it, Sean, not the federal government,” Bondi said. “That’s the shame of it.”

Gorka followed up by saying he doubted Wednesday’s congressional hearing would’ve happened without Hannity’s interest in the issue.

“I agree,” Bondi added.

 

 

Pam Bondi explains why she won’t endorse dog racing ban

Attorney General Pam Bondi finally explained why she won’t publicly support a proposed ban on greyhound racing in Florida or any other constitutional amendment.

Bondi sits on the 37-member Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), which convenes every 20 years to review and propose changes to the state’s governing document.

But, as the state’s chief legal officer, she’s also “the one who has to review all of these (amendments) for constitutionality … before they go on the ballot,” Bondi told reporters after Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.

Any changes OK’d by the panel go on the 2018 statewide ballot, where they must get 60 percent approval from voters to be added to the constitution.

“So I’m trying not to comment on any of the CRC proposals,” she said. “I’m very careful commenting on anything until the appropriate time.”

Commissioner Tom Lee, a Republican state senator from Thonotosassa, had filed a proposed constitutional amendment to ban dog racing.

Bondi, a Tampa Republican who regularly brings shelter dogs to state Cabinet meetings to get them adopted, had declined to say whether she would support the amendment.

Lee’s original proposal would have phased out live racing over three years; it was since changed to take effect only one year after passage.

Jack Cory, spokesman for the Florida Greyhound Association, has said Lee’s proposal “is bad for Florida and it is bad for the greyhounds.”

“It would cost over 3,000 Florida jobs, put over 8,000 beautiful greyhounds at risk and create mini-casinos throughout Florida,” Cory said in a statement, referring to other gambling—such as cards—that would continue at pari-mutuel facilities.

Show ’em the money? Campaign financing repeal yanked by sponsor

A proposal to repeal Florida’s system of public financing for statewide campaigns won’t make it into the state constitution, at least for now.

Kruppenbacher

Frank Kruppenbacher, the proposed amendment’s sponsor, withdrew it from consideration at Wednesday’s meeting of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission’s Ethics and Election committee.

That was after representatives of progressive groups, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, uniformly opposed the idea (P 56).

But Kruppenbacher, a CRC appointee of Gov. Rick Scott, said he instead intends to press lawmakers to think about reforming the system this year. (See update below.) The state spent over $4.3 million in the 2014 election cycle financing campaigns, according to records.

“I see the election process as having been co-opted by money to the point where the public has been disinterested and not paying attention to campaigns,” said Kruppenbacher, an attorney with the statewide Morgan & Morgan law firm, in an interview.

“Look at Washington, look at Congress, and how broken it is,” Kruppenbacher added. “But everybody keeps getting re-elected. Nobody can campaign against (the incumbents).”

But the Legislature itself placed a similar amendment on the ballot for statewide approval in 2010. It flunked at the polls with 52 percent approval; amendments need 60 percent for adoption.

“I guess I just question strategically why to put this before voters” since they already rejected it, Integrity Florida’s Ben Wilcox told the panel.

House Speaker and presumptive Republican candidate for governor Richard Corcoran, however, has said he wants public campaign financing to end, calling it “welfare for politicians.”

Now, public dollars are available to candidates for governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner and chief financial officer, though the money comes with some provisos.

The funds come out of the state’s general revenue, but there had been a “Election Campaign Financing Trust Fund” that was shut down in 1996.

Past statewide candidates that have taken public financing include Agriculture Commissioner and Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam, who took $587,000 for his 2010 election and another $459,000 during his 2014 re-election.

Attorney General Pam Bondi took $432,000 in 2010 and $328,000 in 2014. Gov. Rick Scott took no public dollars to fund his 2010 or 2014 campaigns, records show.

During the meeting, Kruppenbacher told the panel, “We’re funding people who are already highly funded … I’d rather see (the money) go to school children.”

Update: GOP state Rep. Frank White of Pensacola, a candidate for attorney general, filed legislation later on Wednesday to repeal provisions in state law and the state constitution on “public financing of campaigns of candidates for elective statewide office.”

Jax City Council defends tree canopy against ‘sledgehammer gov’t’ in Tallahassee

The Jacksonville City Council approved legislation this week that opposes a state bill (HB 521/SB 574) that would cut the heart out of the city’s tree canopy protections.

The state bill, filed by Republican Greg Steube in the Senate and Democrat Katie Edwards in the House, would prohibit cities such as Jacksonville from stopping landowners from removing trees located on their own private property.

The Jacksonville City Council bill (2017-822) contends that the legislation is “harmful to the environment and contrary to the overwhelming wishes of Jacksonville citizens,” and the bills are an “assault on home rule.”

The city passed a referendum in 2000 to protect the city’s tree canopy, with an overwhelming majority (76 percent) voting for the measure.

“The [state] bill does what Tallahassee does best; preempt local government,” per John Crescimbeni, who introduced the Council bill, a salvo against Tallahassee’s “sledgehammer government.”

“I don’t know what happens to them when they get into the hall of government over there,” Crescimbeni said, “but they forget where they came from.”

The bill was moved as an emergency with multiple sponsors. The entire Council agreed to sponsor the bill, which passed unanimously.

Ashley Moody picks up endorsement from Gulf County sheriff

Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison announced Monday he would back Republican Ashley Moody in the race to replace termed-out Attorney General Pam Bondi next year.

Moody is a former prosecutor and circuit court judge and is running against state Reps. Jay Fant, Ross Spano and Frank White in the GOP primary for the Cabinet seat.

“Florida Sheriffs need an Attorney General who has prosecuted criminals, Ashley Moody has the experience in our criminal justice system that makes her uniquely qualified for this important job. As a prosecutor and judge, she earned the respect of the law enforcement community and has a proven track record of combating crime. I’m honored to endorse Ashley Moody and know that she will serve us well as Florida’s ‘top cop,’” Harrison said.

Harrison makes for nearly two dozen county sheriffs who have endorsed Moody, including the current sheriffs from Bay, Bradford, BrevardClay, Hernando, Indian River, Lake, PascoPinellas, Sarasota, Sumter, Walton, Washington and other counties.

“Our law enforcement community is filled with selfless and brave leaders who are passionate about public service and the safety of others. Sheriff Harrison’s commitment to those ideals and his leadership within the LEO community is admirable. He is tough on crime and relentless in his pursuit of justice, and I’m incredibly honored to have his support,” Moody said.

Moody and Jacksonville Rep. Jay Fant were the only two GOP candidates in the mix for a few months before Pensacola Rep. Frank White threw his name into the hat in October. A few weeks later, Hillsborough County Rep. Ross Spano made it a four-way primary.

Moody had been the far and away leader for much of the early part of the race but White, of Pensacola, made a splash in his first campaign finance report as an AG candidate after putting $1.5 million of his own money on the line. He also broke Moody’s monopoly on endorsements from sheriffs with a few lawmen in his corner.

Fant, who has also put a lot of his own money on the line, has stepped up his game in recent weeks. Last week, he announced major staffing changes across the board for his campaign.

At the end of October, White had $1.73 million on hand in his campaign account, putting him ahead of Moody, who through the same date had about $920,000 in her campaign account and another $207,000 in her committee, Friends of Ashley Moody.

Fant had about $910,000 on hand to start November, including $750,000 in loans, while Spano joined the race with about $44,000 on hand from his House re-election campaign.

Ryan Torrens, the lone Democrat in the race, has about $6,700 in his campaign account.

November reports for all candidates are due next week.

Pam Bondi seeks information over Uber data breach

Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s office issued a subpoena to Uber in search of information related to the ride-sharing company’s alleged cover-up of a 2016 data breach.

The San Francisco-based company recently acknowledged that drivers throughout the country might have had their personal information accessed as a result of the breach. At least 32,000 Uber drivers in Florida may have been affected, according to a news release issued Friday by Bondi’s office.

Uber should have reported the data breach to Bondi’s office within 30 days, according to Florida law.

Instead, the company “reportedly paid a ransom and then concealed the hack by entering into a nondisclosure agreement with the hackers,” the release said.

“Uber’s delay to provide timely notice to affected individuals is inexcusable,” Bondi said. “I have always been a strong advocate for Uber’s innovative technology, but if these revelations prove true, I am disgusted by this cover up and Uber will be held accountable.”

Bondi helped craft the Florida Information Protection Act, passed in 2014, that requires businesses and governmental entities to provide notice regarding data breaches to consumers and take certain measures to protect personal information.

Pam Bondi calls for legislation to protect sexual harassment victims

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Friday said her “heart breaks” for the Senate staffer who in a sworn statement said Sen. Jack Latvala groped her private body parts and sexually harassed her for years, and called for legislation to protect sexual harassment victims.

“I was astonished to learn that one of the victims of the recent allegations in Tallahassee is a woman who I’ve known and respected for years,” Bondi said in a statement.

Rachel Perrin Rogers, a legislative aide to Republican Sen. Wilton Simpson, went public with her accusations against Latvala this week saying she was tired of him lying about her intentions and those of her husband, Brian Hughes, a political consultant.

“My heart breaks for her. We must respect the investigation by the Florida Senate and the privacy of all parties involved,” Bondi said.

Bondi encouraged women who have experienced sexual harassment to come forward, and while she did not give specifics, she said she reached out to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who is handling the complaint against Latvala, to preserve a spot for legislation that would “provide protections to victims of sexual harassment complaints.”

Corcoran, who is mulling a run for governor, has called for Latvala to resign. Bondi said he was supportive of a law that would protect all women working in state government.

“It is remarkable what women can do when we all stand together,” she added.

The sex scandal rocking the Republican gubernatorial candidate intensified this week after Perrin Rogers went public and Latvala’s legal team released dozens of text message exchanges in counter defense that showed a cordial working relationship between the two. The complaint detailing the sexual harassment allegations was also made public this week.

Soon after that happened, Gov. Rick Scott said the powerful senator — who is running to succeed him –was a “distraction” in the Legislature.

Latvala slammed Scott for his comment hours later, taking to Twitter to say Scott’s “theft of billions in taxpayers” was also a distraction, referring to his defense in a Medicare fraud case against Scott’s former hospital company.

“I’m sure HCA stockholders thought your efforts to defend yourself in theft of billions from taxpayers was a distraction but you had a right to defend yourself! I have that same right!” he tweeted.

The Senate continues to investigate the allegations of six women, one of them being Perrin Rogers, brought to light by a POLITICO Florida report. There is a separate Senate probe sparked by the complaint Perrin Rogers filed with the Senate Rules Committee.

Latvala’s defense team said there is a sense of “urgency” to wrap up the investigation and that it could be resolved as soon as next week.

Pam Bondi seeks nationwide concealed-carry legislation

A credit card company once used the slogan “it’s everywhere you want to be.”

If Attorney General Pam Bondi and other attorneys general have their way, the same will apply to concealed-carry permits nationwide.

A press release from the National Rifle Association notes that Bondi joins 23 other attorneys general in pushing nationwide concealed carry reciprocity legislation, via the Senate’s Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 and the House’s Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017.

“These bills, if enacted, would eliminate significant obstacles to the exercise of the right to keep and bear arms for millions of Americans in every State,” asserts the letter from the AGs.

The AGs assert that this legislation “is particularly warranted because the States that refuse to allow law-abiding, non-resident visitors to carry concealed weapons place their occupants in greater danger—not less—from gun violence. These States leave citizens without any real option for self-defense.”

The letter draws parallels between CCPs and crime abatement, adding that concealed carry permit holders are much less likely to commit crimes than the general public.

Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Montana, Georgia, Nebraska, Idaho, Nevada, Indiana, North Dakota, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Louisiana, South Carolina, Michigan, Missouri, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Utah, Wyoming, West Virginia all saw their attorneys general sign on to this letter.

Jay Fant announces major staff upgrades for his Attorney General campaign

Attorney General candidate Jay Fant announced Thursday he is doing a full-on rebuild of his campaign to replace Pam Bondi in 2018.

“The Attorney General in Florida is a critical shield between government overreach and the rights of individuals guaranteed under the Constitution. I am prepared to fight for those rights every day as our state’s top lawyer,” Fant said in a press release. “I have already invested $750,000 of my own money in this campaign and I am fully committed to doing what it takes to win. That’s why we have put together a winning team.”

Fant faces former circuit court judge Ashley Moody and fellow Republican Reps. Frank White and Ross Spano in the GOP primary for AG, and has seen his campaign lag in recent months as his rivals, particularly Moody and White, have picked up steam.

The Jacksonville Republican’s revamp effort includes bringing in Randy Enwright and Jim Rimes of Enwright Consulting Group to lead his political team and turning to The Tarrance Group for polling. Former Rick Scott communications chief Melissa Stone is also coming on board via Cavalry Strategies.

Fant is also going all in on advertising with the Strategy Group, which helped President Donald Trump last election cycle and have worked on 11 other Attorney General campaigns nationwide.

Josh Cooper’s Strategic Information Consultants will be handling opposition research, while Strategic Digital Services, founded by Matthew Farrar and Joe Clements, will handle the digital media operations.

Moody and Fant were the only two GOP candidates in the mix for a few months before White threw his name into the hat last month. Earlier this month, Spano made it a four-way primary.

Bolstered by $1.5 million of his own money, White had $1.73 million on hand in his campaign account to begin November, putting him ahead of Moody, who through the same date had about $920,000 in her campaign account and another $207,000 in her committee, Friends of Ashley Moody.

Fant had about $910,000 on hand to start November, including $750,000 in loans, while Spano joined the race with about $44,000 on hand from his House re-election campaign.

Tom Lee’s proposal to augment CFO duties dies in committee

A review panel has killed a proposed constitutional amendment that would have added financial oversight duties to the state’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

The proposal (P68), filed by Commissioner Tom Lee, died on a tie vote in the Constitution Revision Commission‘s Executive Committee on Tuesday as some panel members raised fiscal and legal questions. A parliamentary attempt by Commissioner Don Gaetz to revive the measure later failed.

But Lee, a Republican state senator from Thonotosassa, said he next plans to take his proposal to the full Commission for consideration.

He previously has said he also intends to run for CFO in 2018; former state Rep. and later Public Service Commissioner Jimmy Patronis was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to fill the rest of then-CFO Jeff Atwater‘s term after he left for a university job.

His amendment, in part a response to a recent lawsuit by House Speaker Richard Corcoran against the Florida Lottery, would have required the CFO “to review and certify contracts … if the contract requires payment of more than $10 million,” a staff analysis said.

Corcoran’s suit alleges that the Lottery went on an illegal spending spree last year when it inked a 15-year, $700 million contract with IGT (International Game Technology) for new equipment for draw and scratch-off tickets. Corcoran won at trial, and the Lottery appealed; both sides now are seeking a settlement.

Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, appointed Lee to the commission.

“You have an obvious problem in state government in that there’s a lack of accountability, checks and balances, internal controls,” Lee told Florida Politics after the committee meeting. “Government has an opportunity to run like a business … yet given an opportunity, we don’t avail ourselves of it.

“I was really disappointed that the basis for voting down the proposal … (included) matters that could have been addressed” by the time the measure reached its next committee, he added.

One problem raised by staff was an increase in costs to the CFO “due to additional staff required to perform contract review.”

Another raised a separation of powers concern. Allowing the CFO to essentially veto contracts could trigger vendor challenges in courts, which might “determine that the (language) does not provide legislative standards or thresholds specifying the CFO’s obligations.”

Attorney General Pam Bondi, also a commission member, voted for the proposal but warned Lee she had “concerns” over the “potential constitutional issues.” Other commissioners voted no, saying they agreed with Bondi.

The CFO’s office was itself created by the 1997-98 Constitution Revision Commission, which shrank the Florida Cabinet from six members to three: An Attorney General, a Chief Financial Officer, and an Agriculture Commissioner. It merged the Cabinet offices of Treasurer and Comptroller into a then-new CFO.

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