May 05, 2016

Add one more name to Donald Trump's potential VP list: Pam Bondi

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@PatriciaMazzei

The chatter among Florida politicians since Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has been less about Trump possibly naming Gov. Rick Scott his running mate and more about another potential pick: Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Bondi's name hasn't made it on the many speculative lists of Trump No. 2's. But if Trump is looking for someone on the ticket to help shore up Florida support, perhaps she should be included.

Consider: Unlike Scott, Bondi endorsed Trump ahead (just barely) of the Florida primary. Unlike Scott, she's obviously comfortable on television. Unlike Scott, she has a years-long personal friendship with Trump.

Scott has the higher office and is much better known (if not very popular). He has also said, as recently as Wednesday night on CNN, that he's not interested in running with Trump.

For his part, Trump has insisted he wants to run with a seasoned politician who can help the celebrity businessman navigate Washington and legislative politics. As an attorney general and former prosecutor, Bondi wouldn't bring any of that experience, though she has had to work with state lawmakers in Tallahassee.

Bondi also seems to have more friends than Trump among Florida's Republican establishment. But she also upset many of those folks when she backed Trump, especially because his foundation had given her political committee a $25,000 donation when she ran for re-election -- and her office later didn't investigate claims against Trump University.

Cue more chatter.

UPDATE: Bondi's Tampa-based political consultant, Adam Goodman, went on Fox News on Thursday suggesting her as a VP choice.

Photo credit: Gerald Herbert, Associated Press

An earlier version of this post misstated the dollar amount of the donation from Trump's foundation to Bondi's campaign.

April 05, 2016

AG Pam Bondi helps kick off annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics

Bondi_0405

@ByKristenMClark

Bondi2_0405Joined by more than 300 law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes, Attorney General Pam Bondi helped mark the start of the 2016 Law Enforcement Torch Run today in the courtyard of the Florida Capitol.

About 8,000 law enforcement officers from across the state will take part in the 1,500-mile run that will wind through Florida over the next several weeks.

The torch will reach its home in Lake Buena Vista in time for the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics' Florida State Summer Games, which start May 20 at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports.

It's the 33rd year for the torch run.

"These children with intellectual disabilities are so inspired and they know that they can do anything, and this gives them hope," Bondi said. "It gives them courage, it gives them skills and it gives them confidence -- and that's why it's so important to us and our state."

The event has special meaning for Bondi, whose 11-year-old niece, Emma, has Down Syndrome. Bondi said Emma is too young to participate yet, but she hopes Emma will join her at the Olympics' opening ceremonies.

Bondi said more than 33,000 athletes, participating in 400 competitions annually, compete in Florida's Special Olympics.

Events for the torch run are planned in each of Florida's 67 counties. The full schedule is available here.

April 01, 2016

Federal judge affirms gay marriage ban is unconstitutional after Florida officials resist compliance

@ByKristenMClark

Although gay marriage has been legal in Florida for more than a year and the law nationwide since last summer, a U.S. District Court judge ruled definitively this week that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Judge Robert L. Hinkle said that Gov. Rick Scott’s administration and the state Legislature need to recognize that and also start treating same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples in all aspects of law.

Hinkle wrote that he was compelled to grant summary judgment in a long-standing lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s same-sex marriage ban because state officials have shown little, if any, inclination to accept and follow last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling and the implications of it.

“After the United States Supreme Court issued [its ruling], one might have expected immediate, unequivocal acceptance,” Hinkle wrote. “Not so for the State of Florida.”

More here.

March 17, 2016

Pam Bondi: I am not running for governor

@JeremySWallace

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi left no doubt on Thursday that she is not interested in running for governor in 2018.

Moments after Fox News host Neil Cavuto introduced her as "frontrunner, maybe" for governor in 2018, Bondi, a Republican from Tampa, was quick to shoot down the idea.

"I will say on the record, I am not running for governor," Bondi told Cavuto 19 seconds into the more than 8 minute long interview. "I’m supporting Adam Putnam who I feel, he is our Agricultural Commissioner, and I think he’ll be a great governor for our state.."

Though Putnam, a Polk County Republican, has been widely speculated as being interested in running for governor, Putnam has not declared for the race and has sidestepped questions about whether he is running.

Despite Bondi's assurance she is not running in 2018, Cavuto wasn't done suggesting Bondi could still do it.

"I’ve looked at polls that indicate otherwise, but you could be right," Cavuto said on his program called Your World with Neil Cavuto.

Cavuto then closed the interview by saying "so far she says not governor, we'll see."

While Putnam has been building up his fundraising in a political action committee he runs for most of the last year, raising over $4 million in 12 months, Bondi has done little in her political action committee. In her fund, called Justice For All, Bondi has raised just $53,000 since Sept. 1, 2015.

March 14, 2016

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi backs Donald Trump

via @learyreports

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi today endorsed Donald Trump at his Tampa rally. "Donald and I have been friends for many years," Bondi said. "I have seen how he interacts with his children."

Trump called Bondi the "most popular person in Florida, by far."

There was talk for days that Bondi would get behind the GOP front-runner and Bondi had previously endorsed Jeb Bush.

The endorsement will revive questions Bondi faced in 2013 over campaign contributions she got from Trump after declining to join an investigation into Trump University, his real estate school that has faced numerous complaints.

As the Herald/Times reported on the $25,000 contribution:

Continue reading "Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi backs Donald Trump" »

February 13, 2016

Florida politicians react to Justice Antonin Scalia's death

@PatriciaMazzei

Republican presidential candidate and former Gov. Jeb Bush

Today we lost a great man whose principled service left our nation vastly better off. This afternoon at Mass, Columba and I prayed for Justice Scalia, who was devout in faith and has been brought home to God in heaven. Our prayers are also with his wife, Maureen, his children and his 28 grandchildren.

Justice Scalia was a brilliant defender of the rule of law--his logic and wit were unparalleled, and his decisions were models of clarity and good sense. I often said he was my favorite justice, because he took the Constitution, and the responsibility of judges to interpret it correctly, with the utmost seriousness. Now it is up to all of us to fight for the principles Justice Scalia espoused and carry forth his legacy.

Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio

Today, our nation has suffered a deep loss. Justice Scalia was one of the most consequential Americans in our history and a brilliant legal mind who served with only one objective: to interpret and defend the Constitution as written. One of the greatest honors in my life was to attend oral arguments during Town of Greece v. Galloway and see Justice Scalia eloquently defend religious freedom. I will hold that memory forever. The next president must nominate a justice who will continue Justice Scalia's unwavering belief in the founding principles that we hold dear. Jeanette and I mourn the loss of Justice Scalia, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Maureen and his family.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson

I am stunned since Justice Scalia seemed to be in the prime of his life. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. And I take very seriously our constitutional responsibility to fill this vacancy.

Continue reading "Florida politicians react to Justice Antonin Scalia's death" »

February 04, 2016

Capitol Buzz: Five things to watch today in Tallahassee

Legislative committees continue meeting in Tallahassee, while the state's top officials go to the fair. Here's what we're watching:

* They won't have an official cabinet meeting, but Republican Gov. Rick Scott, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Attorney General Pam Bondi will still be at the Florida State Fair in Tampa to help kick off the festivities. The governor will host a luncheon there at noon.

* At 9 a.m., the House Judiciary Committee will again take up the proposed "Pastor Protection Act," which allows clergy to turn away gay couples seeking to marry. The committee's vote was postponed last week.

* The House State Affairs Committee could vote to send to the House floor a proposal that changes the legal language of Florida's absentee voting to "vote-by-mail." That panel also meets at 9 a.m.

* The Senate Transportation Committee, also gathering at 9 a.m., will give a first hearing to a bill by Republican Sens. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, and Anitere Flores of Miami, which aims to outlaw the use of red-light camera devices in Florida.

* A bill dealing with cremation fees that counties charge is set for its final committee hearing in the House. The Regulatory Affairs Committee meets at 1 p.m.

December 29, 2015

Oranges vs. apples: Florida AG Pam Bondi bets Gators beat Wolverines

@ByKristenMClark

The attorneys general of Florida and Michigan have made a friendly wager on the outcome of this year's Citrus Bowl.

The high stakes: Fresh fruit.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says she's betting Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette a crate of -- what else? -- Florida oranges that the Florida Gators will beat the Michigan Wolverines in the New Year's Day college football game.

In turn, Schuette has wagered a bushel of Michigan apples that the Wolverines will leave Orlando 'victor'-ious on Friday.

“Beating the Michigan Wolverines will be as easy as apple pie, which I plan to enjoy after watching my Florida Gators win the Citrus Bowl,” Bondi -- a Florida alumna -- taunted Schuette in a statement.

Schuette teased back: “The University of Michigan will certainly prove to be victors over the Gators. I’m looking forward to having freshly squeezed orange juice on the table in Midland, (Mich.) next week.”

If the Gators win, Schuette will send the apples to Bondi's office, and if the Wolverines win, Bondi will send the orange's to Schuette's.

Kick-off for the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl is at 1 p.m. Friday.

December 08, 2015

AG Pam Bondi reacts to Seminole gaming compact proposal

@MaryEllenKlas @ByKristenMClark

Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose office has authority over the enforcement of the state's gaming laws, said she hadn't yet read the proposed compact between Gov. Rick Scott and the Seminole Tribe and couldn't say whether the tribe is currently violating the law.

"I want to read the compact and see what the expansion is," Bondi told reporters Tuesday. "My goal is for Florida not to become Atlantic City; I've always said that. I don't want a casino on Longboat Key, where I grew up, and all of our beaches in the Panhandle. That's been my greatest concern, obviously. But I'd like to look at the compact and see how extensive it is."

As the tribe continues to operate black jack and other banked card games at its Hard Rock casinos and three other of its properties despite the fact that the provision authorizing those games expired in July, Bondi couldn't say if the operation of those games is illegal.

"I need to look at the compact and see what it says,'' she said. "We tried to download it this morning so I could look at it and couldn't, because obviously this happened late last night. I'm not dodging your question; I just haven't looked at it."

November 16, 2015

Lawmakers want to ban Florida from implementing EPA clean air rule

@ByKristenMClark

Two Republican state lawmakers are joining Florida's Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi to fight what they view as an over-reaching plan by President Barack Obama's administration to combat the effects of climate change and reduce the nation's carbon footprint.

State Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, and Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, have introduced legislation that would prohibit state agencies from implementing a proposed rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency dubbed the "Clean Power Plan."

The rule requires Florida to cut its carbon dioxide emissions 26 percent by 2030 -- a mandate that Diaz says could harm the state's economy and threaten Floridians' jobs.

Diaz said in a statement today that he views it as his job as a lawmaker "to ensure that over burdensome regulations do not hurt Florida’s most financially vulnerable citizens" and "to push back against a regulation that was adopted by unelected bureaucrats who do not understand what the cost to Floridians will actually be."

House Bill 639 and Senate Bill 838, both filed last week, state that "the Legislature must establish and direct the state's energy policy to best protect the standard of living of its citizens." The bills would prohibit state agencies from limiting -- or even planning to limit -- carbon dioxide emissions unless Congress enacts legislation directing it or a federal court upholds the EPA rule.

Last month, Bondi joined 23 other states in a lawsuit challenging the EPA over the "Clean Power Plan," calling it both an economic and states' rights issue. Her participation in the lawsuit made her the target of a recent attack ad launched by the political committee run by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.