As controversy swirls around Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, her opponent in her first election could see it coming. Former state Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach was Bondi's Democratic rival in 2010, and he bristled back then at what Bondi described as a "pro-business" candidacy for the job of the state's chief legal officer and consumer watchdog.
Gelber, a former federal prosecutor, promised to create an anti-corruption unit in the A.G.'s office. But like most Democrats running in mid-term elections, Gelber didn't have a chance, and Bondi won easily.
Now, as Bondi attracts unfavorable publicity across the country from having solicited a $25,000 donation from Donald Trump three years ago, Gelber has a number of questions, such as: After the first whiff of controversy in the fall of 2013, a month after she got Trump's check, why didn't Bondi return the money?
"The way you run for attorney general is utterly political. But the way you govern has to be, in some ways, absolutely apolitical," Gelber said.
He said an attorney general must scrupulously avoid any appearance that political influence plays a role in decisions such as -- in the case of Bondi and Trump University -- whether influence could affect a pending investigation, which undermines the public's faith in government.
Bondi's spokesman, Whitney Ray, said Monday that the release of more than 8,000 pages of internal documents in the Trump case "consistently demonstrate that through due diligence, staff assessed matters brought to their attention and properly determined that New York litigation seeks relief for any and all aggrieved consumers, regardless of their state of residence."