Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who had previously endorsed Jeb Bush, endorsed Donald Trump at a Tampa rally today, the final day before the Florida primary tomorrow.
“Donald and I have been friends for many years,” Bondi said at the rally. “I have seen how he interacts with his children.” In a statement, Bondi emphasized Trump’s leadership:
People today are looking for leadership, the kind that Mr. Trump offers, that’s unafraid to tell it like it is and will do something about renewing America’s strength and greatness. That’s why I am pleased to announce my support of Donald Trump for President. We have been friends for years, and I know his family personally. I’ve seen first-hand how he leads, and how he cares deeply about the people of this country. If elected President I know he will bring America’s best minds together to preserve what we have, and secure what we need, for the future.
The endorsement confirms reports the Florida attorney general would back the real estate tycoon following Bush’s withdrawal from the presidential race.
Three years ago, Bondi declined to join an investigation into Trump University and subsequently received a hefty campaign contribution, raising some eyebrows. In 2013, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said Bondi was reviewing allegations in a lawsuit filed by the New York state attorney general against Trump University, which offered financial management seminars in exchange for significant up-front fees. Three days later, the Donald J. Trump Foundation made a $25,000 contribution to “And Justice for All,” a political fundraising committee working for Bondi’s re-election.
Bondi never joined the New York lawsuit. Jenn Meale, a Bondi spokeswoman, argued that Florida’s participation was unnecessary, since the affected Florida customers would be compensated should New York win its case.
Bondi also did not file a separate suit on behalf of the 22 complaints filed with her office in 2008, two years before she became attorney general. The complaints named the “Trump Institute,” which was not named in the New York lawsuit. Since these are technically two different entities, these 22 may not be covered by the New York lawsuit.
Since Bondi became attorney general in 2011, the office has received only one complaint about Trump’s seminars, and it was filed in 2011.
Trump leads recent polls by a margin of nearly 20 points in Florida. The primary has been described as “make-or-break” for Marco Rubio, as it is his home state.