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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 9, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 37
Payoff: The case of Donald Trump and Pam Bondi
Section One
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Payoff: The case of Donald Trump and Pam Bondi

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

'I've got to give [campaign contributions] to them, because when I want something, I get it,' Donald Trump boasted in January. 'When I call, they kiss my ass. It's true. They kiss my ass. It's true.'

New information about Trump's relationship with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi illustrates what he meant.

According to a September 1 Washington Post story, the Trump Foundation paid Bondi's 2013 reelection campaign $25,000 and was fined $2,500 by the IRS for violating federal tax laws by doing so.

The Post added that Bondi had said she was investigating fraud charges against Trump University in her capacity as Florida attorney general, but after the payment she dropped the investigation.

According to the Huffington Post, Trump also hosted a $3,000-per-person fundraiser for Bondi at Mar-a-Lago, his 126-room Palm Beach mansion.

In addition to the $25,000 donation from his foundation and the star-studded Mar-a-Lago event, Trump and his daughter Ivanka each gave $500 to Bondi's campaign in the fall of 2013. The following spring, Ivanka and her father donated another $125,000 to the Republican Party of Florida, Bondi's single biggest source of campaign funds.

The Huffington Post also reported that in 2013, Trump gave $35,000 to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott - now the governor of the state - who had dropped his own investigation of Trump University.

A former employee of Trump University, who requested anonymity because he has a nondisclosure agreement, told the Huffington Post that politics always played a role in how Trump University did business.

'All we had to do is stroke a check to the committee to re-elect [the state attorney general],' the individual said. 'And the problems went away.'

When Bondi took office in 2011, there were already fraud allegations pending against Trump University.

The previous Florida attorney general, Bill McCollum, had received numerous complaints from attendees of Trump's school, which was based in Florida. According to those attendees, Trump had promised classes and mentoring that never materialized, and when customers complained, the organization refused to give refunds.

Former student Carol Minto of Connecticut said the Trump Institute refused to honor her refund. She reported the matter to the attorneys general of both Florida and Connecticut but only heard back from the latter, who helped her get her money back.

'Trump holds himself out to be this great person in real estate, and I wanted to learn how I could buy and sell properties just like him,' Minto told the Huffington Post. 'And he didn't even turn up. He just had a picture of himself [at the seminar].'

Trump has denied trying to buy Bondi off the fraud case.

'I never spoke to her,' Trump insisted.

Meanwhile, Bondi claims that she personally called Trump to ask him for the donation and did not bring up the fraud investigation.

'I am quite taken aback by the foundation making a political contribution to the Florida AG who was just about to investigate Trump University and then ending the investigation,' Trump's presidential rival Hillary Clinton said.

'There's so many things that are questionable about that. And the IRS certainly thought so and said it was illegal and fined Trump for that set of facts.'

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