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Bondi mum on ouster of FDLE's Bailey


Although she touts herself as a transparent Attorney General, Pam Bondi continued to prove otherwise after Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.

As the top law enforcement official in Florida who works closely with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Bondi should have more than a passing interest in who heads that agency. Yet Bondi hasn't said a peep publicly about the abrupt departure of Commissioner Gerald Bailey

Bondi is no bystander. As a member of the Cabinet, she is one of four votes of the FDLE Commissioner position. Without providing a public explanation, she voted Tuesday to appoint Bailey's replacement, Rick Swearingen.

With Bailey now telling Times/Herald Capitol Bureau Chief Steve Bousquet that he was forced out, what does Bondi have to say about her role? Has she communicated at all with Gov. Rick Scott's administration on Bailey's departure? Or does she not know, ceding her duties to Scott? Did she ask Scott any questions about why Bailey, after three decades with the FDLE, was suddenly leaving?

Bailey told Bousquet that Scott's general counsel told him that Scott had the support of Bondi and the other two cabinet members (CFO Jeff Atwater and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam) in ousting him.

So how did Bondi explain her role to reporters after Tuesday's Cabinet meeting? She didn't. But the below transcript shows just how determined she is in avoiding the questions.

Question: You’re in law enforcement, you haven’t said anything about (Bailey’s) exit. Can you shed a little light on your feelings of Bailey leaving the FDLE?

Bondi: Oh, I think he’s an amazing man. It’s interesting because I almost talked about him today.

Question: Why didn’t you?

Bondi: It escaped me. They kept going. But he’s a very private man. But I’ve been talking to my staff about doing something in his honor.

Question: As a cabinet member you do have some authority on his leaving.

Bondi: Yes. And I think the world of Commissioner Bailey.

Question: Why is he leaving?

Bondi: I do not know.

Question: Have you asked Gov. Scott why he’s leaving?

Bondi: I can tell you that I’ve know Commissioner Bailey for many many years. In fact, I knew him back when he prosecuted the boot camp case back in the days of  (Former FDLE Commissioner) Guy Tunnel when I was a prosecutor. And Gerry Bailey came into this agency and restored integrity, so I think the world of Gerald Bailey.

Question: So why would you not ask questions about his departure?

Bondi: I’m fine with (new FDLE Commissioner) Rick Swearingen. I think Gerry Bailey has retired. I think he’s a very private person.  And you can talk to him about that.

Question: But apparently, the understanding is that (Bailey) stepped down because he was told that he no longer had confidence and support from members of the Cabinet, which includes you. So are you saying at no point in time that you ever communicated to anyone in the Scott administration that you were willing to get rid of Commissioner Bailey?

Bondi: I think the world of Commissioner Bailey.

Question: You’re not answering the question.

Bondi: I think the world of Commissioner Bailey.

Question: So you don't think Florida taxpayers deserve to know whether or not their top law enforcement official was forced out?

Bondi: I think the world of Commissioner Bailey.