Politics

Donald Trump's Problematic Relationship with Pam Bondi

November 17th 2016

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

President-elect Donald Trump is currently selecting officials for his incoming administration, and some of the choices thus far have caused serious backlash.

However one potential candidate may have slipped under the radar.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is reportedly being considered for the U.S. Attorney General appointment (the position is currently held by Loretta Lynch), and it's been widely reported that Bondi is on Trump's transition team.

Although there is no proof that bribery laws were broken, Bondi was involved in a scandal with the now defunct Trump University, Trump's money, and the Internal Revenue Service. Here's what happened:

Trump University students have sued the real estate mogul for fraud. The lawsuits allege that the Trump University courses were a scam, and didn't fulfill advertised promises. Lawsuits in California and New York are still being litigated.

In June, the New Yorker's John Cassidy reported on testimony in a California class action suit against Trump. Ronald Schnackenberg was a former salesman at Trump University.

"Schnackenberg, who worked in Trump’s office at 40 Wall Street, testified that 'while Trump University claimed it wanted to help consumers make money in real estate, in fact Trump University was only interested in selling every person the most expensive seminars they possibly could.' The affidavit concludes, 'Based upon my personal experience and employment, I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme, and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.'"

In 2013, Bondi was considering whether to pursue a Trump University fraud case in Florida, when she received a $25,000 campaign donation from Trump's charitable foundation, according to the New York Times.

In August of 2013, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Bondi's office said it was reviewing a complaint about Trump University and in September the Trump non-profit sent the check. Ultimately, Bondi did not pursue a case against Trump.

The contribution to Bondi's campaign was not listed in the Trump Foundation's tax filing for that year, according to a Sept. 1 report by The Washington Post. When the IRS found out, it charged Trump a $2,500 penalty for the inappropriate contribution that violated tax laws.

Jeffrey McConney, senior vice president and controller at the Trump Organization, told the Post in September that the omission of the contribution to the IRS was an "honest mistake." He said it wasn't an attempt to hide the contribution to Bondi. "It wasn’t done intentionally to hide a political donation, it was just an error," he told the Post.

In June, Bondi denied ever opening a formal investigation against Trump and denied accepting money to close an investigation. "I never, nor was my office, investigating him. Never. I would never lie. I would never take money. I've been obviously devastated over this," Bondi said in a voicemail message to a Tampa Bay Times reporter.

In July, Bondi spoke at the Republican National Convention in support of Trump. She opened her comments by slamming people who have abused their power.

"New York, aren't you proud? Florida, I love you. I love you. November 8th is a day of reckoning for all those who have abused their power. It's the day when we the people will take back our government."

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