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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Democratic Party complaint: Trump broke Florida election law

Donald Trump and Pam Bondi

James Borchuck, Times

Donald Trump and Pam Bondi

15

September

The Florida Democratic Party on Thursday morning filed an election complaint against Donald Trump, claiming he violated Florida election laws early this year when he reimbursed his foundation $25,000 for an illegal contribution to Attorney General Pam Bondi's reelection.

In 2013, the  Donald J. Trump Foundationg gave the Bondi-controlled political committee And Justice for All $25,000. But that donation violated federal tax law because charities cannot contribute to political causes. So earlier this year, Trump personally reimbursed his committee.

That, allege the Democrats, is a violation of a state law that says "A person may not make any contribution through or in the name of another, directly or indirectly, in any election."

Because of the reimbursement from Trump's personal wealth, they say, he has essentially donated to Bondi under the name of his foundation, which has separate accounts.

FDP chairwoman Allison Tant filed the complaint Thursday morning with the Florida Elections Commission.

The law exists to prevent people from using reimbursements to get around campaign finance caps. But while there's no maximum contribution for a political committee like And Justice for All, the law against donating in someone else's name applies.

After news broke earlier this year that the $25,000 contribution could be in violation of tax laws, accountant Nancy Watkins, treasurer for Bondi's political committee, said she sent a refund to Trump.

"It was refunded and he declined to accept the refund because he had already taken care of the issue," she said.

The contribution has caused a firestorm for Trump but also for Bondi, who in various complaints by liberal-leaning groups has been accused of bribery and pay-for-play politics.

Trump's donation came around the time that New York's attorney general filed a lawsuit against Trump University alleging it scammed thousands of people. Florida has never opened any investigation into similar complaints.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 15, 2016 10:09am]

    

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