Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi got a bit of good news Friday after the Florida Bar said it doesn’t have jurisdiction in one of the three ethics complaints filed against her by a Massachusetts lawyer. The complaints came amid calls for an independent investigation into a $25,000 donation from a Donald Trump family foundation toward Bondi's reelection campaign.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Florida Bar does not have jurisdiction over Bondi as long as she holds public office.
Attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee filed the ethics complaints against Bondi this week with the Florida Elections Commission and the Florida Commission on Ethics, in addition to the bar. Bondi reportedly personally solicited the contribution from Trump while her office considered joining a multi-state lawsuit against Trump University.
“These attacks are without merit," Bondi told MSNBC, "and I am confident it will be shown they have no basis in fact.”
Bondi’s press office declined to answer a question on her decision not to join the class-action lawsuit, and deflected the blame to Bondi’s predecessor, former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. All the complaints regarding Trump University were received during McCollum’s tenure, while the Bondi administration received just one complaint about the school around the time she accepted the donation, the office said.
McCollum told MSNBC that lower-level investigators looked into claims against Trump, and McCollum was never made aware of any complaints against Trump’s companies. McCollum also seemingly defended Bondi and the campaign contribution she received.
“I would suspect that for any public office holder, especially in a job like attorney general,” McCollum said, “there are going to be instances where there are campaign donations that might need to be returned. I’m sure that some time or another every office holder has done that. The bad thing would be that there was impropriety, and that’s unusual -- it does happen, but that’s unusual.”
Bondi endorsed Trump’s presidential bid one day before the Florida Republican primary in March.