Attorney General Pam Bondi's political headache is growing worse. Calls for an independent investigation into a $25,000 donation made by Donald Trump to Bondi's PAC continue to mount, and the AG has now been hit with three ethics complaints filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics, Florida Elections Commission, and Florida Bar.
Earlier this week, a political consultant who worked on Bondi's 2014 reelection campaign disclosed that Bondi had personally solicited the donation from Trump. Days after receiving the $25,000 check, her office announced it would not pursue an investigation based on complaints filed by Floridians claiming they were ripped off by Trump University and the affiliated Trump Institute.
The timing looks particularly suspicious, and the appearance isn't helped by the fact that Trump regularly claims on the campaign trail that politicians regularly do favors for wealthy donors.
"When I want something, I get it," Trump said at a campaign rally in Iowa this past January. "When I call, they kiss my ass. It's true."
J. Whitfield Larrabee, a Boston lawyer, is behind the three formal complaints against Bondi.
"Pamela Bondi's actions suggest a conflict of interest and create the appearance of impropriety," the lawyer wrote in one the complaints.
Larrabee tells the Tampa Bay Times that he's a political independent with no ties to Florida politics. It is up to Florida Commission on Ethics, Florida Elections Commission, and Florida Bar whether to investigate the complaints further.
The editorial boards of some of Florida's largest newspapers, including the Orlando Sentinel, the Miami Herald, and the Tampa Bay Times, have also called for an independent investigation into the situation.
"If Bondi truly did nothing wrong, she will welcome an independent investigation to clear her name," the Orlando Sentinel wrote.
Bondi maintains she wasn't aware of complaints filed against Trump's companies when she solicited the money. However, on September 17, 2013, her office told the Orlando Sentinel it would consider joining the New York Attorney General's office to look into the complaints. Three day's later, Trump's check came in.
“I never, nor was my office, investigating him," Bondi told the Miami Herald. "Never. I would never lie. I would never take money. I’ve been obviously devastated over this.”
Bondi further claims that most of the complaints were filed while her predecessor, Bill McCollum, was in office and that the Florida complaints would be covered under the New York investigation. However, the New York investigation centers on only Trump University. In Florida, Trump did business under the affiliated but separate Trump Institute.
Bondi was the most prominent Florida politician to endorse Trump before the Florida primary and continues to work closely with the Trump campaign as a surrogate.