Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi insisted Tuesday that Donald Trump’s 2013 donation of $25,000 in support of her re-election campaign had no bearing on her office’s decision not to join an investigation into the now-defunct Trump University.
Bondi told reporters that “Donald Trump did not get a pass” from her, according to a report from Politico.
“There never was an investigation into Donald Trump by this office,” Bondi said, referring to the New York-led fraud probe into Trump University.
Internal emails cited in a recent report from the Orlando Sentinel indicate that her staffers, at least, were aware of the case. The messages, sent two weeks before Bondi’s office accepted the donation, mentioned the inclusion of Florida complaints in the New York attorney general’s probe and were copied to Bondi’s chief of staff, deputy attorney general, assistant attorney general and spokeswoman, according to the Sentinel.
Bondi also told reporters that she didn’t regret taking the donation, which Trump gave to a political action committee supporting her re-election bid, saying that trying to return it only would have made matters worse.
“If I had returned it you would have reported ‘Bondi accepted a bribe, got caught and returned it.’ That’s how the reporting goes,” she said, as quoted by Politico. “And so, no, there was nothing improper about it. So there was no reason to return it.”
In early September, Trump paid a $2,500 penalty to the IRS for making the donation through his charity foundation in a violation of tax law that the Trump Organization dismissed as “an error.”
In addition to the donation, Trump hosted a lavish $3,000-per-person fundraiser for Bondi at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida in March 2014.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign was quick to criticize Trump for the contribution, calling it “an actual pay-to-play scandal” in a rebuke to Trump’s own attacks on the Clinton Foundation.