Saturday, May 26, 2018
Politics

Carlton: Despite ethical questions about that check, expect Bondi to stump for Trump

The bombshell accusation that Attorney General Pam Bondi personally asked for a campaign contribution from Donald Trump around the time her office was reviewing citizen complaints against Trump U — plus the serendipitous timing of Trump's campaign stop here today in Bondi's hometown — put me in mind of a moment from Gone With the Wind.

Stick with me on this a minute.

This week came news that before her 2014 re-election, Bondi personally solicited a contribution from Trump, today the bombastic uberstar Republican whom Bondi is enthusiastically endorsing for president.

Swiftly following that revelation were complaints to state ethics and elections officials and the Florida Bar, accusing Bondi of everything from misusing her public position to dishonesty and fraud.

Bondi has called the news reports on this "misleading" and the complaints against her "without merit."

Interesting that she referred to questions raised about the timing of this particular campaign contribution "attacks" — and not, say, a misinterpretation that she can easily and quickly clear up with a transparent airing of all the facts and the timing.

But hey, calling a situation that would raise the eyebrows of any reasonable person an "attack" kind of turns things around in your favor, doesn't it? It's downright Trumpian.

Just this week, Bondi was part of a Trump conference call that dealt with his criticism of a federal judge's Mexican heritage, during which Trump encouraged campaign surrogates, Bondi included, to cast reporters themselves as the racists.

Hey, I'm not the bad guy! The person accusing me of being a bad guy is the actual bad guy! See how that works?

So in this Trump/Bondi campaign contribution scenario, even if you don't believe what happened was a quid pro quo — a blatant and ugly you-do-this-for-me-and-I'll-do-that-for-you — you have to, at the very least, consider the appearance of impropriety.

We give our elected state prosecutors immense powers. Asking them to take every caution to make sure every decision appears impartial and apolitical is just a no-brainer.

So perhaps asking for a contribution and taking $25,000 from a guy being looked at because of serious consumer fraud complaints is maybe not your best idea. Particularly if you want the people who put you in office to think protecting them is Job One, or at least in front of the task of getting yourself re-elected.

So Trump comes to the Tampa Convention Center today, with Bondi expected to be front and center. No doubt she's still got some hometown muscle, having once been a well-regarded, well-liked local prosecutor before she went off to Tallahassee — a place careers go to soar and, sometimes, souls to die.

So back to Gone With the Wind, and this great scene of reckoning. Our heroine Scarlett is seen in an embrace with true love Ashley, who happens to be another woman's husband (big scandal). Then Scarlett's own husband, Rhett, forces her to attend Ashley's birthday party with everyone there — to face the music, to shoulder any shame that might be deserved.

Will Bondi show up for Trump, given the ethical questions simmering about that check?

Of course she will.

How old-fashioned to think an appearance of impropriety — or better yet, making explaining her actions a priority over politics — would take precedence.

How, pardon the expression, gone with the wind.

Sue Carlton can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
More LGBT issues loom as justices near wedding cake decision

More LGBT issues loom as justices near wedding cake decision

WASHINGTON — A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through courts and will continue, no matter the outcome in the Supreme Court’s highly anticipated decision in the case of a Colorado baker who would not create a wedding cake for a s...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

I may have cracked the code. Found a way to sell doing the right thing. Discovered a method of persuasion in certain matters of fairness, conscience and the greater good.Like giving our fellow Americans a second chance.When morality-based arguments d...
Published: 05/26/18
North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

PUNGGYE-RI, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions Thursday as a group of foreign journalists looked on. The explosi...
Published: 05/24/18
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Published: 05/23/18
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18