Friday, January 19, 2018
Politics

Romano: If you see Pam Bondi, please ask her about Donald Trump for me

Presumably, Pam Bondi is still alive. Happy is another matter.

These cannot be good times for Florida's attorney general, which might explain her reclusive approach to public service and her penchant to disappear at the first sign of trouble.

Apparently, this is what happens when you endorse your own demise.

It isn't just that Bondi decided to support Donald Trump for president. It's that she gleefully threw her future fortunes in with his.

She appeared on stages with him. She solicited campaign money from him. She played surrogate and flunky with nearly as much gusto as Rudy Giuliani.

And so now she seems compelled to work in silence and incognito.

Just as she did when his illegal contribution to her campaign was in the news last month, Bondi has avoided answering phones, emails and questions. This time, it's concerning a video that highlights Trump's entitled view of sexual conquests that sounds suspiciously like assault.

Bondi used to boast she was unafraid to take on gangs, thieves and murderers as a prosecutor, but now is apparently scared to face reporters and voters.

Some Republicans have denounced Trump. Some have distanced themselves from his words, if not from his candidacy. And yet Bondi has said nothing.

I'm sorry, but that's not how it works.

You don't show up at a political rally in Jacksonville, call yourself Trump's friend, declare America is about to become known as Trump Country and then hide when the polls start turning against you.

You don't poke fun at Hillary Clinton at the Republican National Convention — "Lock her up; I love that." — and then pretend you're an innocent bystander when the narrative gets uncomfortable.

You don't ask for campaign contributions from someone facing a potential investigation from your office and then act offended when it's suggested there might be a conflict of interest.

This isn't about Bondi's politics. She's allowed to endorse whomever she likes. She's allowed to support whatever policies she believes are best for her state and her country.

This is about Bondi's shameless ambitions. Once upon time, people in Tampa knew Bondi as a Democrat. As a moderate. As a real person with a genuine heart.

And yet, since being elected attorney general as a Republican six years ago, Bondi has become a caricature. It's not just that her politics have evolved, it's that her positions are completely at odds with the person she once professed to be. No position is too extreme. No cause is too partisan.

Every move she makes seems calculated to raise her profile in right-wing circles.

And so, perhaps it is fitting that her star is being dragged down by another former Democrat who has also been accused of being more opportunist than conservative.

Bondi keeps insisting that the $25,000 donation given to her by Trump had nothing to do with the review her office was conducting of Trump University consumer complaints. She says contributions have nothing to do with how she runs her office.

Yet Trump has often insinuated that he expects favors for his donations and points to the Clinton Foundation as an example of politicians using the power of an office to solicit funds.

And at this time last year, Bondi called sexual assault a "horrific crime that profoundly changes the lives of victims" and declared "these monsters belong behind bars," but apparently has no opinion about Trump bragging about grabbing women by their genitals.

Does Bondi still endorse Trump as president?

Who knows?

If she does, that's certainly her right. And she is entitled to whatever reason or explanation for making that choice. But given her very public, and enthusiastic, support of Trump in the past, she owes it to Florida voters to offer her thoughts on a major revelation about her favored candidate.

Hiding is unbecoming of the state's top law enforcement official.

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