Reps. Deutch, Frankel: Feds should review Trump-Bondi links
Two Democratic members of Congress from Florida joined the chorus of criticism Tuesday over Donald Trump's $25,000 donation to Attorney General Pam Bondi's re-election campaign. The two Democrats, both Hillary Clinton supporters, said the U.S. Department of Justice should review what happened.
U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton and Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach focused their criticism on Trump, who has boasted of his ability to call in favors from politicians in exchange for campaign contributions.
Bondi has confirmed that she solicited a $25,000 campaign donation from Trump in 2013 at a time when her office had complaints on file from consumers who enrolled in Trump University, a defunct, for-profit real estate school that's the subject of class action lawsuits in New York and California. Bondi referred the complaints to the attorney general in New York, who was already investigating the school. Trump has said he never spoke to Bondi about Trump University.
"She (Bondi) took the cash and then she dropped the case against Trump University," Deutch told reporters on a conference call arranged by the Democratic National Committee.
Bondi's spokesman, Whitney Ray, reiterated Tuesday that the attorney general never considered opening an investigation of Trump U. "There was no basis for any investigation into Trump University, because at the time of the original media inquiries in 2013, this office had received only one consumer complaint," Ray said. "There was never any recommendation by the staff to investigate or sue Trump University in 2013."
Citing news accounts in Florida papers, Deutch noted that Trump later hosted a Bondi fund-raiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach that raised about $150,000 and personally gave $125,000 to the Republican Party of Florida, which was active in helping Bondi win re-election in 2014.
"I went to law school," said Deutch, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. "You've got to think about ethics and you have to worry about conflicts of interest all the time."
As the two lawmakers called on the U.S. Department of Justice to review the facts in the case, their focus on the $25,000 to Bondi is part of a Democratic strategy to attack Trump's ethics. When Florida reporters steered questions to Bondi's record, Frankel quickly shifted the focus back to Trump. "He decided to pay a politician to get what he wanted," Frankel said.