Hillsborough state attorney wants another prosecutor to handle bribery complaint against Trump, Bondi
Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober has requested that a different prosecutor handle a complaint alleging that Donald Trump bribed Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
Ober received a complaint from J. Whitfield Larrabee, a lawyer from Brookline, Mass., requesting an investigation by the state attorney's office into a $25,000 campaign contribution by the Trump Foundation to Bondi's reelection in 2013. The donation came around the time other states were investigating fraud complaints at Trump University, which Bondi's office declined to do.
But Ober has a conflict of interest, he says. Bondi worked as an assistant state attorney in that very office for 19 years, including nine years under Ober's leadership.
"General Bondi is a personal friend to Mr. Ober and other members of his staff," wrote Michael Sinacore, chief assistant state attorney, in a letter to Scott. "To avoid the appearance of impropriety, State Attorney Mark Ober requests taht another state attorney be assigned to discharge the duties of the state attorney in this matter."
The request was first reported by the Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday.
Scott now can choose which of the other 19 state attorneys in Florida should consider an investigation into Bondi.
Though the request came from Ober's office Aug. 22, it has not yet been acted on by the governor.
“We received the letter and will process this reassignment request with the same protocol as other reassignment requests," Scott spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said in a statement.
It's common for state attorneys to request their cases be reassigned when they see a conflict of interest. However, it's less common for the subjects of a complaint to be Florida's top legal officer with ties to every state attorney.
Bondi's office and Trump's campaign have repeatedly insisted that the bribery allegations are not true. Addressing reporters in Washington on Tuesday, Scott, who chairs a pro-Trump super PAC, echoed those complaints.
“It’s just partisan politics," Scott said.