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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pam Bondi endorses Donald Trump



Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi today endorsed Donald Trump at his Tampa rally. "Donald and I have been friends for many years," Bondi said. "I have seen how he interacts with his children."

In a statemet, she said: “People today are looking for leadership, the kind that Mr. Trump offers, that’s unafraid to tell it like it is and will do something about renewing America’s strength and greatness. That’s why I am pleased to announce my support of Donald Trump for President. We have been friends for years, and I know his family personally. I’ve seen first-hand how he leads, and how he cares deeply about the people of this country. If elected President I know he will bring America’s best minds together to preserve what we have, and secure what we need, for the future.”

There was talk for days that Bondi would get behind the GOP front-runner and Bondi had previously endorsed Jeb Bush.

The endorsement will revive questions Bondi faced in 2013 over campaign contributions she got from Trump after declining to join an investigation into Trump University, his real estate school that has faced numerous complaints.

As the Tampa Bay Times reported on the $25,000 contribution:

The donation came three days after an Attorney General's Office spokeswoman said Bondi was reviewing allegations in a lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general against get-rich-quick seminars associated with Trump.

A Sept. 14 Orlando Sentinel story noted that Schneiderman cited dozens of complaints filed with the Florida Attorney General's Office in 2008, two years before Bondi took office. A spokeswoman for Bondi was quoted as saying the office was reviewing the New York lawsuit.

Three days later, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, based in New York, made a $25,000 contribution to And Justice for All, a political fundraising committee raising money for Bondi's re-election.

Florida hasn't followed New York's lead against Trump. Bondi couldn't be reached for comment. Jenn Meale, a Bondi spokeswoman, suggested no action is necessary because the affected Florida consumers would be compensated if New York wins that case.

But a review of the 22 complaints filed in 2008 show they named the "Trump Institute," an entity not named in the New York suit. Because those are technically different entities, it's unclear how many making those complaints would be covered, then, by the New York suit.

Meale points out that since Bondi has been attorney general, the office has received only one complaint about the Trump seminars. It was filed in 2011 by Charles Jacobson, who is now 62 and retired in Delray Beach. He says he lost $26,000 in fees to attend a three-day seminar in West Palm Beach.

[Last modified: Monday, March 14, 2016 4:25pm]


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