As the state's first female attorney general, Pam Bondi juggles her workweek in Tallahassee with a commute to Tampa every weekend with her dog.
A fourth-generation Floridian, she grew up in Temple Terrace and still calls Hyde Park home.
At age 45, she's an 18-year veteran of the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office, having prosecuted murder and rape cases, served as felony bureau chief, and a member of the internal homicide, vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter committees.
Since being sworn into office 10 months ago, Bondi said antipill mill legislation has had the biggest impact. She is particularly touched by the issue as it affects babies.
"I went to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, and these little babies, born addicted to prescription drugs, are going through horrible withdrawals," she said in a recent interview. "It's becoming an epidemic, and we want to stop it. The babies are truly innocent little lives."
But away from all of that legal stuff, Bondi and Luke, her 165-pound St. Bernard, spend time with local family and friends, including fiance Greg Henderson, a Tampa ophthalmologist with four grown children. We talked to Bondi about everything from iPhone apps to children to one of her biggest "trials" yet — a spring wedding.
Are you afraid of anything?
I think being a prosecutor for so long makes you pretty tough. But I absolutely hate snakes and spiders.
How are you and Greg coping with the commute?
I'm the one that has to cope with the eight-hour commute each weekend — four hours each way, Luke and I. It's been difficult to be away from everyone. Greg and I talk constantly during the day. He'll even call me when he's in surgery. We talk as much as we can. It's really difficult too because all my best girlfriends are in Tampa, and I rarely get to spend time with them. I'm exhausted when I get home.
What do you two like to do together?
We love going to CinéBistro (in Hyde Park) on the weekends. We love going out in the boat. However, Luke has not developed sea legs. This past weekend, we tried to bribe him with Jim Bo's barbecue. They have the best bacon in the world. We tried to bribe him with an order of extra-crispy bacon, and he would not even get on the boat for the bacon.
We hear you have a wedding in your future. Are we invited?
I have promised to keep (St. Petersburg Times society reporter) Amy Scherzer updated on any plans. She will kill me if she reads anything here. … Granted, it may be in a location very, very far away.
Have you set a date?
Spring. I have to get through session, but we're looking at dates now. We've made Greg's kids the wedding planners. It's fun for them.
What are your favorite iPhone apps?
Sayfie Review, easily. It's the one I most use. It's all the statewide political and business news. Of course, I read the Wall Street Journal every day. And the Weather Channel, because I travel so much. And then for my niece and nephew: Angry Birds. They're addicted. I've never played Angry Birds, actually. They put it on there.
You have a niece with Down syndrome, right? Tell us about her.
Emma is 7 years old. She's the one who downloaded Angry Birds. She has a twin, Evan, who doesn't have Down syndrome. She's changed my perception of beauty. I look at Down syndrome children now, and they're so incredibly beautiful and they're sweet and kind. It just reminds you of the precious gifts of life.
You've said you would one day like to foster a child. Is that day getting closer?
I've already taken the … classes a few years ago. But it's expired, so I'm trying to pick dates where I can take them again in Tallahassee. I'm actively looking at fostering a child. There are so many incredible kids that need homes. That's just something that I've always, always wanted to do.
Elisabeth Parker can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3431.