Feds should investigate Bondi-Trump connection - 2016-09-08
Federal prosecutors should investigate whether there is any connection between the decision by Attorney General Pam Bondi's office not to pursue fraud allegations against Trump University and a $25,000 campaign contribution he gave her. Since Florida prosecutors will not touch this mess, the Justice Department is the only option. The appearance of something more than a coincidence is too serious and the unresolved questions are too numerous to accept blanket denials by Bondi and Trump without more digging and an independent review.
Scrutiny of the Trump check and the decision by Bondi's office not to investigate complaints about Trump University has intensified in recent days as the presidential campaign has heated up. The Washington Post reported that Trump paid a $2,500 penalty this year to the Internal Revenue Service and refunded his foundation $25,000 because the contribution violated tax laws. The check came from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which is a tax-exempt nonprofit prohibited from contributing to political campaigns. But the violation was undetected for years because of what the Trump campaign characterizes as a clerical error in listing the contribution as given to another group in Kansas with a similar name to Bondi's campaign effort.
Even more important is the sequence of events in 2013. The Orlando Sentinel reported on Sept. 14, 2013, that a spokeswoman for Bondi's office said it was "currently reviewing the allegations" in a New York lawsuit involving Trump University. Three days later, Trump's foundation wrote a $25,000 check to Bondi's campaign committee. After the check was received, Bondi's office decided not to launch its own investigation or to join a lawsuit filed by New York's attorney general. That timing simply does not look right and deserves an independent look to reassure Floridians that the state's top legal officer did nothing wrong.