Amid the ongoing legal drama between Trump University and the students it allegedly scammed, a new controversy has emerged that could have far reaching implications in the political world.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump while her office was deciding whether it would join an investigation against his university.
Media reports came rolling in this week after the Associated Press received disclosure documents from Bondi’s office showing the timeline of when she received the donation and when her office decided not to pursue a case against Trump University.
According to the AP, Bondi had personally sought out a donation from Trump “several weeks” before her office announced it was considering joining an investigation against Trump University in September 2013. But documents show just four days after that announcement, a Trump family foundation cut a $25,000 check to a PAC supporting Bondi’s re-election. Her office decided against an investigation in October.
Trump University was founded in 2005 by Donald Trump, who advertised the school as a pathway to success in the real estate investing world. The now-defunct university is facing a federal lawsuit and a separate suit in New York from students who claim it was a scam, separating them from as much as $35,000 per enrollee for classes they either never received or found worthless.
More than 20 Floridians had submitted complaints to Bondi’s office seeking help in getting refunds from the university, according to the AP, though she said through a spokesperson that she was aware of only one such complaint.
As the AP pointed out, Bondi’s nixing of her investigation left Florida customers high-and-dry in their attempts at seeking restitution from the presidential front runner. It also gives insight into the influence commanded by Donald Trump, who’s famously said he expects favors from politicians in exchange for donations.
Bondi has since spoken out against the reports through statements to the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau reporter, stating her office never launched an investigation and that the controversy has left her “devastated.” [Associated Press / Miami Herald] — Sean Stewart-Muniz