Accused of a “pay to play” scheme with Donald Trump, a defiant Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi broke her silence with the state’s news media Tuesday to say that she had no regrets in accepting a $25,000 political contribution from the Republican at the same time her office said it was examining fraud allegations against Trump University that it ultimately didn’t pursue.
“Donald Trump did not get a pass,” Bondi told reporters. Bondi told reporters that the contribution, made to her political committee before her 2014 reelection campaign, had no bearing on her office’s decision to not join a civil fraud lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman against Trump University, which was defunct by the time she first took office in 2011.
Bondi’s first political opponent in 2010, former state senator and federal prosecutor Dan Gelber, said Bondi should at least have returned the check to Trump while the New York case was pending. But Bondi on Tuesday said she didn’t return the check because it would have looked as if it were a bribe.
“If I had returned it you would have reported ‘Bondi accepted a bribe, got caught and returned it.’ That’s how the reporting goes,” Bondi said. “And so, no, there was nothing improper about it. So there was no reason to return it.” Nonetheless, when controversy recently flared over the donation again, Bondi’s committee tried to return the check but Trump wouldn’t accept it.