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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Trump camp denies wrongdoing in Bondi donation



With attention swelling over Donald Trump’s $25,000 donation to Attorney General Pam Bondi, the Trump campaign insists the two never discussed allegations facing his real estate seminars.

“Mr. Trump has never under any circumstances spoken to AG Bondi about Trump University,” spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Tampa Bay Times.

“It is my understanding that AG Bondi was never investigating Trump University and that this was merely mentioned at a staff level. Regardless, Mr. Trump was not made aware of any investigation or discussion about a potential investigation.”

Bondi has said questions about Trump University, also known as Trump Institute, never reached her desk and her office only received one complaint. Records show staff discussed the issue, which first surfaced under her predecessor, Bill McCollum. He previously told the Times it did not reach his desk, either.

Now Bondi finds herself embroiled in a national media story over Trump’s contribution to her political committee just days after her office told the Orlando Sentinel in 2013 it was looking into the matter. Bondi, who has endorsed Trump and appears at his Florida rallies, never took action.

The issue resurfaced following a Washington Post report that Trump paid a $2,500 IRS penalty for making the donation with his foundation, which is not permitted.

Related coverage > In Trump Institute, Donald Trump had Florida partners with a record of fraud <

How could Trump, a longtime player in political donations, have used the foundation?

“While obvious, the press seems to ignore the fact that there was not, and could not be, any intent or motive for the Foundation to make the payment rather than Mr. Trump – all political contributions are publicly reported and a matter of public record, as are all Foundation expenditures,” Hicks wrote in an email to the Times.

“This was merely an unfortunate series of clerical errors recognized and reported by the Trump Foundation.”

Hicks did not answer why Trump refused to accept a refund, as Bondi’s team has said it offered.

“Mr. Trump, on behalf of the foundation, had already taken corrective action pursuant to IRS procedures and reimbursed the foundation for the mistaken payment,” Hicks wrote, referring to how Trump wrote a personal check to cover the expense.

She also declined to answer an elemental question: When did Trump and Bondi meet?

Records indicate he had not given money for her political causes before.

-- Times staff writer Michael Auslen contributed to this report.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 8, 2016 11:13am]


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