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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pam Bondi says she didn't know $25,000 Trump donation was from foundation



Attorney General Pam Bondi said Tuesday that when she received a $25,000 donation to her political committee from Donald Trump, she didn't realize it had come from his foundation -- a tax-exempt group that is not legally allowed to give to political campaigns.

"Of course not," she said. "And I think the Trump campaign has acknowledged the error was on their end and they’re correcting it."

But that's about all she said. In response to additional questions about the donation, made in 2013 to And Justice for All, a political committee Bondi controls, she said, "I’m going to let the accountants handle this."

Here are those questions, from Times/Herald and Associated Press reporters:

* Has Bondi considered returning the money as part of remedying the tax issue?

* Did Bondi ask for the donation, which both the Trump campaign and an independent watchdog group claim.

The donation was controversial initially. At the time, the state of New York had just filed a lawsuit alleging that Trump University had "scammed" people out of millions of dollars. The Florida attorney general's office had received similar complaints but never opened an investigation. Bondi was not directly part of that decision, her spokesman Whitney Ray said.

But it came back to the forefront two weeks ago, after Bondi endorsed Trump for president.

In the wake of revived news reports, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether the donation was legal. Not only is the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which gave the money to And Justice for All, a 501(c)(3) organziation that can't support political candidates, but it didn't properly disclose the donation on its federal tax forms.

Bondi is correct in saying that the Trump campaign acknowledged the issue, chalking it up to "an unfortunate series of coincidences and errors" in a statement from spokeswoman Hope Hicks

The foundation has been working to fix the problem, Hicks said.

Bondi's support of Trump has raised other questions, though, as the latter's campaign manager faces battery charges in Palm Beach County.

Neither she nor Gov. Rick Scott, who also endorsed Trump for president, was willing to comment Tuesday after campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged with battery. Lewandowski allegedly grabbed reporter Michelle Fields, then of Breitbart News, as she approached Trump at an event in Jupiter, Fla.

"I saw on the news, briefly, the accusation," Bondi said, "but I’m not going to comment on a pending case involving any state attorney’s office, because of course we don’t have jurisdiction. That’s up to our 20 state attorneys. I don’t comment on anything regarding pending cases with our state attorneys."

Scott said he didn't "know any of the facts" in the case.

"I just heard that," he said.


[Last modified: Tuesday, March 29, 2016 5:49pm]


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