Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi welcomes presidential candidate Donald Trump on stage during Trump’s Town Hall meeting March 14, 2016, in Tampa.  [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi welcomes presidential candidate Donald Trump on stage during Trump’s Town Hall meeting March 14, 2016, in Tampa. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]

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]

Carlton: Despite ethical questions about that check, expect Bondi to stump for Trump 06/10/16 [Last modified: Friday, June 10, 2016 9:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath


    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

  2. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.
  3. Study: Pollution kills 9 million a year, costs $4.6 trillion


    NEW DELHI — Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

    New Delhi’s landmark India Gate, a war memorial, is engulfed in morning smog on Friday.
  4. Quarterback Jameis Winston will start Sunday for the Bucs


    TAMPA — Jameis Winston hadn't thrown in practice since he injured his right shoulder in Sunday's loss at Arizona, and with that uncertainty, a wide line of TV cameras and reporters' cellphones were all out Friday morning, recording the moment as Winston tested his shoulder with his first throws early in …

    Despite a sore shoulder, Jameis Winston will be making his 38th consecutive start since being drafted first overall in 2015.
  5. Paul Rodgers replacing ZZ Top on Ribfest 2017 lineup


    In looking to replace the ailing ZZ Top, Ribfest found some good company in Bad Company.

    Paul Rodgers