1. Opinion

Ruth: Trump, Bondi dance around the facts

Let's state for the record that Attorney General Pam Bondi cannot be bought off with a $25,000 campaign contribution. Tut-tut. However, the 25 large does make for a very nice down payment when one wants to purchase some scruples on layaway.

This is Florida, after all, widely recognized as one of the most politically corrupt states in the country. If you are going to attempt to compromise the state's chief legal officer, it darn well better at least include a free ride on private jets, room service at a swanky resort and some tasty Dom Perignon. The motto of the Florida Attorney General's Office ought to be: "I'm Pammy, Ply Me!"

The national media has finally stumbled upon Bondi's rather loose relationship with money and politics that we here in Florida have known about for quite some time.

Following revelations that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had paid a $2,500 penalty to the Internal Revenue Service for making an illegal $25,000 contribution from his foundation to Bondi's re-election campaign, what caught everyone's attention wasn't the paltry fine but the timing of the original donation.

It was 2013, and the New York attorney general was actively pursuing an investigation into Trump University, which was more accurately a School for Schlemiels. Students paid thousands of dollars deluding themselves into believing that they too could someday be a rich, boorish, narcissistic huckster. But all these poor (and getting poorer) pupils failed to understand that Trump possessed one unique path to his riches they did not — a wealthy daddy.

Here in Florida, Bondi's office also noodled around on Chump University after several students had filed complaints. And then, as if by magic, abracadabra — poof! — any notion to launch an investigation disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of Tallahassee after Bondi received a $25,000 campaign contribution from the Trump Foundation.

The check was suspect. The timing was suspect. And the contribution was illegal since such nonprofits are barred by the IRS from making political donations.

Now both Trump and Bondi have launched into full hummana-hummana-hummana mode. Trump has insisted he never mentioned his Trump University woes to Bondi before cutting the illegal check. And Bondi, in her best Sgt. Schultz impersonation, is now claiming she knew nothing about any investigation into Trump's School for Stooges before she hit up the mogul for some moolah. And if you believe any of that, there's a free full-boat gullibility scholarship to the Donald J. Trump University of Grifting awaiting you.

Maybe, just maybe, if the Trump contribution to Bondi coming on the heels of the Florida Attorney General's Office's sudden lack of interest in pursuing an investigation into Trump University's alleged fraudulent marketing practices had been an isolated event, maybe all the denials of cozy wrongdoing might have some resonance.

But Bondi has a long history of showing favoritism toward anyone who will pick up her bar tab.

Since becoming attorney general, Bondi has flitted about the country attending numerous Republican Attorneys General Association events where her travel expenses were covered by the then-Washington law firm of Dickstein Shapiro, who laundered their largesse through the AG association, thus making the gratuities perfectly legal. And it was at many of those junkets where Bondi socialized with Dickstein Shapiro lawyers and the firm's clients, many of whom had cases pending before the Florida Attorney General's Office.

And what happened to those cases? Ba-bye! See ya! Au revoir! So long, it's been good to know you!

Days ago, Bondi took time to express great umbrage over any suggestion the $25,000 donation and her office's decision not to investigate Trump's School for Suckers were in any way related. (Stop laughing!) Bondi testily said she would not be "bullied" by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. That makes sense, since she's already all too preoccupied with being Trump's willing shill.

Donald Trump has defended Bondi as a woman "beyond reproach." How touching. But isn't Trump as a character witness a bit like having Baghdad Bob vouching for Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte's credibility?