Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, has confirmed that she personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump at the time her office was considering prosecuting Trump University for fraud, the Associated Press reports. A Trump family foundation gave a nonprofit controlled by Bondi $25,000, and Bondi dropped the case.
In September 2013, the Orlando Sentinel ran a story asking why Bondi’s office wasn’t investigating Trump University. (New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman had just filed a lawsuit against the enterprise.) Bondi said that she would look into the matter.
Three days later, And Justice for All, the committee supporting her re-election campaign, received the check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation. Bondi’s office nixed the lawsuit, citing insufficient grounds to proceed. At the time, Trump refused to answer questions about why he was contributing to the Florida AG, but in a statement he called Bondi “a fabulous representative of the people” and Schneiderman “a political hack.”
Bondi declined repeated requests for an interview on Monday, referring all questions to Marc Reichelderfer, a political consultant who worked for her re-election effort.
Reichelderfer told AP that Bondi spoke with Trump “several weeks” before her office publicly announced it was deliberating whether to join a lawsuit proposed by New York’s Democratic attorney general. Reichelfelder said that Bondi was unaware of the many consumer complaints received by her office about Trump’s real-estate seminars at the time she requested the donation.
“The process took at least several weeks, from the time they spoke to the time they received the contribution,” Reichelderfer told AP.
In March, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the IRS, alleging that the Trump foundation had not properly disclosed the contribution. Tax-exempt charitable foundations cannot support political groups.
In a statement on Tuesday, CREW maintained its criticism. “Attorney General Bondi’s admission that she personally solicited a donation from Donald Trump directly contradicts the Trump camp’s version of events,” the statement reads. “Their claims that they did not know how the Bondi-backing group got the money and their implication that Bondi made the request of the Trump Organization and not Trump himself raise further questions, including how another organization was listed as receiving the donation on their taxes.”
“We filed a complaint with the IRS focusing on the Trump Foundation’s illegal $25,000 contribution to support Bondi’s election. If the contribution was made or solicited to influence an official decision, it would be an even more serious violation of the law. This reaffirms the need for an immediate and thorough investigation.”
In the March GOP debate, Trump criticized his rivals’ dependance on Super PACs. “There is total control of the candidates,” he said. “I know it better than anybody that probably ever lived. And I will tell you this: I know the system far better than anybody else and I know the system is broken.”
“I know it so well because I was on both sides of it. I was on the other side all my life and I’ve always made large contributions. And frankly, I know the system better than anybody else and I’m the only one up here that’s going to be able to fix that system because that system is wrong.”
Bondi has endorsed Trump’s presidential bid.