Pam bondi Archives - Page 7 of 38 - Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: Pam Bondi is no ‘victim’ in Trump U scandal

Let’s get this straight: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says “Hillary Clinton will not bully me” over the legitimate scrutiny being paid to the timing of a campaign donation Bondi received in 2014 from Donald Trump.

Bullying is a pretty stern accusation, so let’s explore this further. What did Clinton do to rise to that level of schoolyard terror?

Start with the fact that Bondi admitted hitting Trump up for a campaign contribution, right around the time a lot of people in her position would have instead asked for a deposition.

“Of course I asked Donald Trump for a contribution; that’s not what this is about,” Bondi told Fox Business News. “She was saying he was under investigation by my office at the time, and I knew about it, none of which is true.”

Proving she is adept at doing the Tallahassee Two-Step, Bondi is absolutely telling the truth. Trump was not under investigation by her office for allegations that his Trump University bilked Florida consumers.

But, um … why not? That’s the real story, and it makes the contribution look downright slimy, coming as it did just days after Bondi decided she saw nothing wrong with Trump’s for-profit venture.

This doesn’t count the fine Trump just paid to the IRS because the check to Bondi came from his charitable foundation. Tax laws prohibit charities from giving political donations.

So Clinton is “bullying” Bondi by bringing this up? Either that was an unfortunate choice of words on live TV, or she is delusional — place your bets. Bondi, no stranger to big league politics, should know better. At this point, she is lucky this is only a campaign issue and not a legal one for her.

She is not the victim here.

Then again, Bondi’s record suggests she is a supreme opportunist who will shape-shift to whatever platform or alliance seems to work best. Remember, she originally endorsed Jeb Bush for president. She even declared, “This is the most important election of our lifetime, and he is the hands-on man we need to run our country.”

Then, after Trump mocked and tried to humiliate Bush during the campaign, Bondi shifted her allegiance to the man Bush probably loathes most of anyone today in politics.

Bondi has made the flimsy explanation that she elected not to join an investigation by New York state into Trump U because it was unnecessary. That’s ridiculous, of course, given Bondi’s enthusiasm for joining the legal actions of other states in the past.

In 2014, she even joined in an attempt to stop a large-scale cleanup of Chesapeake Bay. For the geographically challenged, that’s in Maryland.

This issue has the potential to dog Bondi in much the same way the email scandal has been impossible for Clinton to shake. Since Bondi is term-limited as attorney general and will have to find another gig in 2018, it could be a problem.

I just keep wondering what Bondi’s approach would have been if that was a Florida Democrat caught in a web like this. There would be investigations piled up on top of each other, and she would VOW to GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS immediately!!!

Instead, she calls one her accusers a bully, hoping this classic bob-and-weave makes everyone forget this isn’t Hillary Clinton bringing up an uncomfortable item from Bondi’s recent past. It calls her whole performance as attorney general into question.

That’s not bullying. It’s just reality.

Scam artists impersonating Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier [update]

If you get an email from Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier, don’t reply.

Do notify the Department of Insurance Regulation hotline at 877-693–5236.

The department issued an alert Thursday warning that somebody is sending emails over Altmaier’s name, seeking to rip off consumers.

“A fraudulent email, appearing to be sent from OIR Commissioner Altmaier, has been sent to consumers, notifying that all of the recipient’s insurance policies have been cancelled,” the department said in a written statement.

“OIR does not send notices of cancellation, and those who receive this email should disregard the information. Consumers should not click on any links contained with the email message, and should immediately delete the email.”

The department urged anyone who receives such an email to report it via the hotline.

“Consumers can also utilize this helpline to speak directly with insurance experts who can assist consumers with the filing of post-storm claims and answer any insurance-related questions,” the department said.

This particular scam bears the hallmarks of a phishing expedition — tricking consumers into allowing access to personal financial information.

“That’s what we’re thinking, but we’re not sure. We wanted to get the word out so people are aware — so they don’t believe it,” Altmaier spokeswoman Karen Kees said.

“We received some calls to our consumer services line,” said Joel Brown, press secretary for the Department of Financial Services. The message used the department’s mailing address in Tallahassee, he said.

He advised people with questions about their policy status to contact their insurers directly.

Fraudulent schemes accompanied Hurricane Hermine as with other disasters. Attorney General Pam Bondi has fielded 35 reports of price gouging at last report, and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has said that scam artists in Taylor County are impersonating Federal Emergency Management Agency employees and demanding a $150 deposit to help file hurricane-related insurance claims.

Update: The Department of Financial Services released more information about the emails. As of Thursday, officials had received four complaints.

“These have come in from Brevard, Lee, Sarasota, and Levy counties,” Brown said. “We have instructed staff to gather additional details from consumers and track the number of calls and messages we receive regarding this scam.’

State leaders sign off on Florida primary results

The results of Florida’s Aug. 30 primary election are now final.

The state Elections Canvassing Commission — comprising Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam  took less than two minutes to certify the results Thursday morning.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner presided over the meeting in the state Capitol. Scott, Bondi, and Putnam participated by telephone. Scott was spending the morning clearing debris Hurricane Hermine left in Tallahassee’s streets.

If the process seemed perfunctory, it was done in the interest of transparency, Detzner said.

“If someone comes and has a question or wants to have a discussion about how the results were captured, we’re happy to answer those questions,” he said. “Transparency and public access to the final part of certifying the election we think are important.”

Detzner predicted voters would flock to the polls during the Nov. 8 general election.

“We anticipate as much as 80 percent turnout,” he said. “I think the highest number in the state of Florida was 1992 — it was 82 percent. But I’m looking for a very, very large turnout.”

He expects a smooth election, as well.

“I’m confident that the supervisors [of elections] are prepared. We want to make Florida an example to the nation and the world that we know how to run elections here,” Detzner said.

There was one glitch during the primaries — Broward County released some returns before the voting was final. Detzner referred the matter to local prosecutors.

“I have not heard any follow-up from the state’s attorney’s office,” he said.

Mistakes on vote-by-mail ballots appear to be on the decline, Detzner said. Still, he urged voters to be careful.

“If they are mailing their ballots in, make sure they sign them, make sure they fill them out, make sure they put a stamp on them and put them in [the envelope].”

Mail-in ballots and early voting are extremely popular with Floridians, he said.

“They really, really like it. Some counties set records, as a matter of fact, during the primary for early voting and mail ballot voting.”

American Bridge spot focuses on Donald Trump, Pam Bondi

A liberal super PAC is hitting Donald Trump over his $25,000 donation to Attorney General Pam Bondi.

“American Bridge” released a 30-second spot Thursday calling Trump to task over a 2013 donation to Bondi’s political committee. The ad, first reported by the Tampa Bay Times, is called “The Art of the Bribe” and features clips of Trump, and the news media questioning the donation.

“When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do,” Trump is heard saying in the advertisement.

In 2013, Trump gave $25,000 to support Bondi’s re-election bid. The donation came as Bondi’s office was considering whether to pursue an investigation into Trump University. Bondi ultimately decided against an investigation.

Trump has paid a $2,500 penalty to the IRS and refunded the money to his foundation — which had made the original contribution.

Mitch Perry Report for 9.8.16 — The reality of our binary choice for POTUS

To begin with today, props to the Tampa Bay Times’ Anastasia Dawson for her portrayal on the very short life of Levonia Riggins, the 22-year-old black man shot and killed last week by a white Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy because … well, because they said he went for a gun when he was confronted in his bedroom at 8 a.m. by said sheriff deputy (Riggins was unarmed). And the reason why a SWAT team was banging down his door in the first place? Because twice before sheriff’s officials had purchased pot from Riggins, and they “thought” he was armed.

Back to politics.

I won’t bash NBC’s Matt Lauer today, since everyone else on the Internet has already done so regarding his performance as monitor of last night’s discussions on national security with Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump. But let me add my two cents to where these two candidates came up woefully short last night.

After watching Clinton speak in Tampa on Tuesday, I wrote that while her speech had been labeled for days as major address on national security issues, she actually spent a very short time talking about what she would do to contain ISIS, and then fired off a series of (pretty funny) ripostes on how lame Trump’s policies were (such as “His secret plan to defeat ISIS? The secret is, he has no plan.”).

What it showed, however, is that so much of what Clinton is selling is less an affirmation about her own candidacy, but how bad the other guy is. True, many candidates do that all the time (look at the Rubio vs. Murphy matchup), but Clinton’s inability to talk about her own plans was apparent when she violated the rules set down by Lauer and started bashing Trump last night. With less than 30 minutes available to talk about her foreign policy acumen (and 10 of those minutes stuck focusing on her damn emails), why did she have to resort to bashing Trump there? It looked like a lack of confidence in her own plans — which shouldn’t be the case if she’s one of the most “qualified people ever” to run for office.

As far as Trump’s performance? I’m sorry, but I thought it was nauseating to hear him praise Vladimir Putin the way he did. It was disrespectful by itself to praise the Russian leader while ripping on America’s president, but I get that Trump, like Clinton, is all about bashing his opponents. But praising Putin for having an 82 percent approval level in Russia? Wasn’t Saddam Hussein‘s poll ratings in the 90’s back in the 1990s? Embarrassing.

And his quote that “Our generals have been reduced to rubble”?  Nice.

In other news …

The man Pam Bondi defeated for attorney general six years ago, Democrat Dan Gelber, says the AG should hire an independent investigator to check out the real story behind her office’s decision not to prosecute Trump University.

The ground game for Donald Trump in Hillsborough County is finally started to emerge.

Who says there’s no bipartisanship in Florida? Patrick Murphy and David Jolly teamed up on a bill to congressional leaders on Wednesday, calling on them to end the madness and find a way to pass a bill for more funding to combat the Zika virus.

A coalition of activists want to take Amendment 1 down in Florida this November, calling it a “sham” concocted by the utility companies to turn out the light on solar power expansion in the Sunshine State.

The entire seven-member Tampa City Council has endorsed David Singer, a fellow Democrat, in the House District 60 race against Jackie Toledo.

The LIBRE Initiative is going all out in advocating for Marco Rubio‘s re-election to the U.S. Senate this fall.

And meet John Houman, aka “Mr. Manners” and the man standing between Darryl Rouson and a seat in the Florida state Senate next year.

Dan Gelber calls on Pam Bondi to invite independent investigation into Trump University matter

Dan Gelber says despite their vast ideological differences, he’s always gotten along with Attorney General Pam Bondi, the woman who defeated him for the position back in 2010. But he says the fact that she solicited a campaign contribution from Donald Trump at the same time her office declined to pursue an investigation into Trump University “raises legitimate questions in need of answers.”

“Although I ran against Pam Bondi for the post and lost, we have always gotten along notwithstanding our vastly different political views,” writes Gelber on his personal blog. “I believe she knows better. Bondi ought to invite an outside, independent review of her office’s decision making. It may well be that not pursuing the matter was the right thing to do — but the presence of a $25,000 check from Trump, and his boasts that he manipulates politicians with campaign cash, makes that conclusion far less credible.”

Gerber, 55, served in the Florida Legislature from 2000-2010, before losing the race for attorney general to Bondi by 13 percentage points in 2010. It was the same election that saw Rick Scott narrowly defeat Alex Sink for governor.

Gerber’s post comes as the issue regarding the campaign contribution Bondi received from Trump’s foundation has once again resurfaced again in this election cycle, after the Washington Post reported last week that Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 penalty this year, after it was revealed the GOP presidential nominee’s charitable foundation had violated tax laws by giving a political contribution to a campaign group connected to Bondi’s re-election campaign. The improper donation, a $25,000 gift from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, was made in 2013. At the time,  the general narrative in the media has been that Bondi was considering whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University. She decided not to pursue the case.

“In fairness to Bondi, it is not at all clear whether she knew the details of the investigation when the check was solicited, or whether it influenced her office’s decision,” Gelber writes, but adds that it doesn’t have to. “Bondi should have rejected the money, or returned it immediately upon learning that Trump was seeking an action —or in this case an inaction — from her office,” he writes, adding, “while an attorney general attains an office through political means, it is paramount that it be administered free of any scent of politics.”

A spokesman for Bondi’s office, Whitney Ray, earlier contacted FloridaPolitics to say some reporting on the issue has been in error, which he said stemmed from an Orlando Sentinel story that “erroneously reported that this office was reviewing the New York lawsuit’s allegations to ‘determine whether Florida should join the multi-state case.’

“This is absolutely not true,” Ray said, before listing these statements as facts:

— There was never an investigation by this office into Trump University in 2013.

— There was no basis for any investigation in Trump University, because at the time of the original media inquiries in 2013, this office had received only one consumer complaint.

— There was never any recommendation by the staff to investigate or sue Trump University in 2013, and consequently, the matter never rose to the attorney general’s level for any decision of any kind.

— There was never any “multistage” investigation or lawsuit into Trump University.

 — There was no invitation ever extended to our office from the New York Attorney General’s Office, or to the best of our knowledge, to any other attorney general’s office to join the New York lawsuit. And, in fact, no other state has ever joined the New York lawsuit.

Other reporting has noted there were as many as 20 people who complained about Trump U. in Florida, but as Ray says above, the AG’s office had only received a single complaint.

But Gelber says even if there was no quid pro quo, Bondi was playing with fire by soliciting a contribution from Trump.

“I spent nearly a decade as a federal prosecutor, mostly in the public corruption unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida,” he writes. “I spent the same amount of time as a state legislator where political fundraising was a necessary fact of life. I’ve served in both worlds and know the difference between them.

“Any prosecutor knows — and Pam Bondi was a prosecutor in Tampa before she ran for political office — that a prosecutor cannot be a politician when performing their law enforcement duties. An attorney general commands an army of lawyers as well as the law enforcement community that often works at their direction. It is no different with civil enforcement cases whose purpose is to protect consumers from con men and fraudsters, of which Florida has more than its fair share.”

 

 

 

Mitch Perry Report for 9.7.16 — Pam Bondi’s reluctance to investigate Trump University resurfaces on the campaign trail

Who knew Hillary Clinton was a fan of the University of South Florida Bulls?

“Hello, Tampa! Hello, USF! I know I’m only the second-most exciting thing that’s happened here in the last few days. Your big win to open your football season got some attention,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to the audience who gathered at the rather intimate student recreation center on the North Tampa campus on Tuesday (And yes, that 56-20 victory over Towson was impressive).

After dispensing further pleasantries (including a nice shoutout to outgoing Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner), Clinton got down to business, which was all about trashing Donald Trump as being hopelessly overmatched when it comes to discussing national security issues.

While flying to Tampa, Clinton held her second straight news conference with reporters, where she happened to mention the Donald Trump Foundation has recently been fined for illegal activity when it made a political contribution to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. As most readers know, Bondi’s office had received complaints from more than 20 Floridians to investigate Trump University because of their negative experiences.

“And of course, as we know, there was a phone conversation between them — they contradict each other,” Clinton said, adding the “American people deserve to know” what was said in that call because “clearly” Bondi “did not proceed with the investigation.”

Trump was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine to the IRS over the $25,000 donation. The Trump Foundation had not listed the contribution in its tax filings, and Trump later reimbursed the foundation for the donation.

Last night on the Fox Business Network, Bondi told host Neil Cavuto that she wouldn’t be “bullied” by Clinton. “I will not be collateral damage in a presidential campaign, nor will I be a woman bullied by Hillary Clinton,” the AG said.

As an RNC spokesman said yesterday, only one attorney general in the U.S. — New York’s Eric Schneiderman — ever pursued charges against Trump U. True, along with a separate federal class action civil lawsuit filed in California. Both allege Trump University defrauded consumers by as much as $35,000 each with promises of a real estate investing education they either did not receive or found to be worthless.

While the fact that Bondi’s office decided not to pursue charges against Trump U. may be completely legit, speculation about “pay-for-play” continues to color this story, and it ain’t helped by statements that Trump has made on the stump, statements his fans love for “telling it like it is.”

“When I want something I get it,” Trump said at an Iowa rally in January. “When I call, they kiss my ass. It’s true.”

In other news …

SD 19 fallen candidate Ed Narain, who came so close before losing out to Darryl Rouson last week, said he’s optimistic about his future following last week’s tough election result.

After reporting earlier in the day that the Tampa Tiger Bay Club didn’t appear prepared to reschedule a debate between the candidates for state Senate District 18, the campaigns and the political forum have come to an agreement to host the debate between Dana Young, Bob Buesing, Sheldon Upthegrove, and Joe Redner on Oct. 21.

It’s getting rough and tumble already in the CD 13 contest between David Jolly and Charlie Crist, with Jolly bashing the former Republican for his “hidden” ties to Donald Trump.

A subcommittee with the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Committee passed by a 2-1 margin controversial new rules that ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft say could drive them literally out of town.

And there’s fallout in the local PR-political world, as Tampa’s Tucker/Hall is suing one of its former major principals, Tony Collins, for breach of contract.

Donald Trump seeks distance from donation supporting Pam Bondi

Donald Trump spoke to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi before his charity cut a 2013 check to support her re-election effort, but his campaign said Tuesday the two never discussed whether her office would join a lawsuit against Trump University.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks clarified details of the conversation one day after the Republican presidential candidate said he never spoke to Bondi about the issue, without providing specifics. Bondi, also a Republican, has endorsed Trump’s White House bid.

“I never spoke to her, first of all, she’s a fine person beyond reproach,” Trump said Monday. “Never spoken to her about it. Never. Many of the AGs turned that case down because I’ll win that case in court, many turned that down. … I just have a lot of respect for her and she’s very popular.”

Bondi’s spokesman told The Associated Press in June that she personally solicited the $25,000 donation from Trump during a 2013 phone call. The Donald J. Trump Foundation check arrived just days after Bondi’s office told a newspaper it was deliberating whether to join a proposed multi-state lawsuit against Trump University and its affiliates, a business that offered real-estate seminars scores of former students allege were a scam.

Florida didn’t join the lawsuit, which was filed by New York’s attorney general.

Trump has said in the past that he expects and receives favors from politicians to whom he gives money.

Bondi has said the timing of Trump’s $25,000 donation was coincidental and that she wasn’t personally aware of the numerous consumer complaints her office had received about Trump University and its affiliates.

Charities are barred by law from supporting political activities. Hicks said Tuesday that the improper foundation check was the result of a series of clerical errors, and that the billionaire businessman had intended to support Bondi with personal funds.

The Trump Foundation on its 2013 tax return then incorrectly reported that the $25,000 was paid not to the pro-Bondi political group, but to a similarly named charity in Kansas that got no Trump money.

The Washington Post first reported last week that Trump’s charity paid an IRS penalty of $2,500 earlier this year, following media reports about the impermissible 2013 donation. It was not immediately clear whether the foundation has yet amended its tax returns to correct the reporting error.

“Mr. Trump paid the fine,” Hicks told AP. “All is squared away.”

Asked what Trump and Bondi discussed during the 2013 phone call, if not Trump University, Hicks said she couldn’t immediately provide an answer.

“I don’t think this was a lengthy, memorable call,” Hicks said. “Mr. Trump talks to a hundred people in any given day. So, I don’t know if I will be able to provide that information. That’s not exactly a realistic or reasonable request.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

WaPo: Donald Trump pays IRS penalty for Pam Bondi contribution

Lost amid Hurricane Hermine coverage, the Washington Post reported Donald Trump ponied up a $2,500 penalty to the IRS after his charitable foundation broke the law by giving a contribution to one of Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s political fundraising panels.

The Post last Thursday reported that the Republican presidential nominee “filed paperwork informing the IRS of the political gift and paid an excise tax equal to 10 percent of its value.”

The news comes after Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit watchdog, asked the Internal Revenue Service to “investigate whether the Trump Foundation violated federal law.”

Foundations like Trump’s are banned under federal rules from political activity, including giving contributions.

Moreover, the $25,000 contribution came from Trump’s charitable foundation on Sept. 17, 2013 — “four days after Bondi’s office publicly announced she was considering joining a New York state probe of Trump University’s activities,” according to a 2013 report in the Orlando Sentinel.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued Trump, citing dozens of complaints over the now-defunct Trump University, alleging the program enticed students with a get-rich-from-real-estate scheme, then socked them with expensive and sub-par seminars.

But “after the check came in, Bondi’s office nixed suing Trump, citing insufficient grounds to proceed,” the Associated Press has reported. Bondi was elected to a second term in November 2014.

According to the Post, Jeffrey McConney, senior vice president and controller at the Trump Organization, said Trump had “personally reimbursed the Trump Foundation for $25,000, covering the full value of the improper gift. McConney blamed a series of mistakes, all of them unintentional.

” ‘It was just an honest mistake,’ McConney said. He added: ‘It wasn’t done intentionally to hide a political donation, it was just an error.’ “

In addition, Nancy Watkins, “the treasurer of Bondi’s political group, said that she had actually tried to send the money back, without success,” the Post reported.

This June, after Bondi had evaded questions on whether she personally solicited the contribution, a spokesman told the AP she in fact had asked for the donation. Bondi has endorsed Trump for president.

The $25,000 went to “And Justice for All,” a now-defunct electioneering communications organization (ECO) that supported Bondi’s re-election. Under state law, ECOs can only pay for things such as television, radio or digital ads.

State offices were closed Monday for the Labor Day holiday, but Bondi has previously denied any wrongdoing.

Asked about the contribution after a March Cabinet meeting, she told reporters, “I’m going to let the accountants handle this. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

The Post story has gotten little traction, coming out as the hurricane battered Florida’s Big Bend region and flew up the Eastern seaboard.

As Josh Barro, Business Insider‘s senior editor, tweeted on Sunday: “Why is nobody talking about this Trump/Bondi story that everybody’s talking about nobody talking about?”

Personnel note: Sydney Ridley joins Frontier Communications

Sydney Ridley, former House Republican leader Dana Young’s right-hand woman, is leaving to head government and regulatory affairs for Frontier Communications’ Florida operations.  

Ridley, who will be based in Tampa, “will represent Frontier’s Florida interests, involving extensive interaction and advocacy with public officials to include state and federal legislators (and) state agency representatives,” according to a press release.

“Our growing presence in Florida as a critical telecommunications provider as well as nationally makes it extremely important that our company’s positions are represented to policymakers and regulatory bodies in a thoughtful and professional manner, which I know Sydney will do,” said Allison M. Ellis, Frontier’s senior vice president for regulatory affairs for the Southeast region.

Ridley, who has been Young’s top legislative aide and her state Senate campaign manager, joins Frontier after a widely publicized customer service disaster that resulted in a rare public apology from the company.

On April 1, Frontier took over Verizon’s landline, internet and cable TV service in Florida, specifically for Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota customers.

Soon after, thousands of customers took to the company’s Facebook page to complain of outages, poor service, and sudden billing increases. California and Texas are the two other states affected by Frontier’s takeover.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi met with Frontier executives and announced the Connecticut-based telecommunications company had “committed to improving communications and customer services in Florida.”

By May, Melanie Williams — Frontier’s top executive for Florida operations — said in a public statement the company “apologize(s) to every Tampa Bay area customer who has experienced service disruptions.”

Young called Ridley her “political right arm for six years, from the early days when I was a freshman member in the 11th floor Capitol tower office, to the hustle and bustle of the House majority office.”

“Her knowledge of the (state) budget is second to none,” Young said in a text message. “I will miss her terribly, but am very excited for her as she starts this new chapter in her professional life.”

Ridley, a graduate of the University of Virginia, also has worked on the campaigns of Mike Prendergast for Congress, Jeff Brandes for Florida Senate, and Dorothy Hukill for Florida Senate, the release said. 

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