Saturday, September 22, 2018
Politics

Romano: Checking in with the attorney general for another good laugh

This is exactly what we needed.

In the final hours of an interminable election, we were due for a little comic relief. A chuckle amid the rancor. A giggle to relieve the tension.

Yes, we absolutely needed Pam Bondi to show up.

Florida's attorney general is the whim beneath our wings. She talks; we laugh. Everybody wins.

In case you missed it, Bondi was on Fox News on Sunday to discuss FBI director James Comey's announcement that there was nothing in the renewed Hillary Clinton email inquiry that would warrant charges.

To Florida's top law enforcement officer, this was evidence we should not trust America's top law enforcement officers.

"This confirms everything Donald Trump has been saying about the system,'' Bondi said. "The system is dysfunctional. The system is broken.''

Now, to be fair, the FBI did handle it in a radical fashion:

It did an actual investigation.

Based on what we've seen of Bondi's office, that's not the preferred way to go. If you recall, we had our own little executive branch scandal in Florida.

Gov. Rick Scott decided he didn't want Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey around anymore, and had one of his lawyers tell Bailey to clear out his office by 3 p.m.

Scott then lied for several weeks, telling Florida residents that Bailey had voluntarily resigned. He finally acknowledged that wasn't entirely true after Bailey essentially called him a liar.

Since the FDLE is under the purview of the state Cabinet, it was also a problem that Scott unilaterally forced Bailey out without a public discussion. At the very least, Scott misled Cabinet members and violated Sunshine Law requirements by orchestrating the firing through back-channel communications.

This all happened right under Bondi's nose, yet her microphone seemed to be on mute during subsequent Cabinet meetings. For someone intent on pointing out broken political systems, that seemed to be an opportunity missed.

But perhaps I'm being too critical.

As Bondi pointed out in another Fox News interview, there was a larger issue involved here. Clinton was brazenly running for president while in the midst of an FBI inquiry, Bondi said.

"If I went to apply for a job right now, (if) I wanted to get a Bar license in another state and I listed I was under a federal investigation, I wouldn't get the job,'' Bondi said.

Okay, she seems to be saying perception matters.

That's actually a fascinating tack for Bondi to take.

Especially since she has never acknowledged her own perception problems after soliciting Trump for a political donation while he was under investigation by the New York attorney general for fraud violations. These fraud violations were similar to complaints Bondi's own office was investigating regarding the Trump Institute in Florida at the same time she was asking him for campaign funds.

What's amusing is that Bondi once pitched herself to Florida voters as the ultimate outsider: a career prosecutor who didn't care about politics.

And yet she has been everywhere campaigning as Trump's most visible supporter in Florida. She also seems to spend more time on Fox News than some of the network's anchors.

As an attorney general, Bondi turned out to be a pretty good punch line.

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