An investigation is needed into whether Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi violated the law by failing to investigate or take legal action regarding complaints against Trump University and related entities after the Trump Foundation made a $25,000 contribution to a political committee supporting her, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the Inspector General for Florida’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the state’s Commission on Ethics.
An investigation by CREW, including a Public Records Act request, found that the OAG received at least 22 complaints regarding Trump University, the Trump Institute, and related entities between February 2008 and May 2011. Just days before the contribution, which Bondi personally solicited from Donald Trump, OAG told the Orlando Sentinel, “We are currently reviewing the allegations” in a lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman against Trump University and Mr. Trump. A week later they told the Palm Beach Post the same thing.
Details of OAG’s decision-making process are not clear, but within a month after the Trump Foundation’s contribution arrived, they were telling reporters that “there was no consideration of whether to join” the New York lawsuit. OAG also may have decided around this time not to investigate the complaints it received.
“The apparent timing of decisions not to take legal action against Trump University or the Trump Institute are deeply concerning,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “Before the donation arrived, the Attorney General’s office told the press it was considering taking action against Trump University, but soon after the money came, the office made it clear that no action would be taken.”
OAG later told reporters that it did not investigate or join the lawsuit because it only received a single complaint during Attorney General Bondi’s tenure. However, OAG had received numerous complaints before Bondi took office, and it took action in other matters based on complaints filed before she took office.
“The Inspector General and the Commission on Ethics should immediately commence investigations to get to the bottom of this,” said Bookbinder. "The facts remain murky, but if decisions not to investigate Mr. Trump’s businesses were linked to Attorney General Bondi’s solicitation and acceptance of a $25,000 campaign contribution from the Trump Foundation, she may have violated Florida law and the state’s standards of conduct for public officials.”
In March, CREW filed an IRS complaint against the Trump Foundation for making the donation, which was illegal under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code.
Click to read the IG complaint and the Ethics complaint.
The public records request and responses can be found HERE.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Jordan Libowitz at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.