When the cruise line Royal Caribbean sought to amend a 1997 consumer protection agreement with the Florida Attorney General’s office, it hired a lawyer familiar with the agency’s inner workings.
Former Attorney General Bill McCollum called on the staff of his successor, Pam Bondi. Six months after the June 2013 meeting, Bondi’s office granted McCollum’s request.
Royal Caribbean’s advertised rates would no longer have to include fees for services, like baggage handling and loading cargo. The fees, which can inflate a trip’s cost by more than $100, could be listed separately from the company’s advertised rates.
On at least two other occasions, McCollum met with Bondi’s staff to discuss two more clients — NJOY, an e-cigarette company, and HealthFair, which sells health screenings from mobile clinics.
McCollum isn’t just Bondi’s predecessor; he also leads the Republican State Leadership Committee, which has championed Bondi’s advancement.
McCollum served as vice or acting chairman of the Washington-based group from June 2012 to January 2014, records show. During that period, it contributed $650,000 to Bondi’s re-election campaign, more than 10 percent of what she raised, and chipped in another $16,000 in gifts so she could attend conferences with other Republican attorneys general.
When asked what role he had in those expenditures, McCollum said the staff, not the board, decides how campaign contributions are made. He didn’t address the gifts. Story by Michael Van Sickler here.