A day ahead of the crucial Florida primary, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi endorsed Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump at a rally in Tampa.
Bondi’s Monday endorsement comes more than two years after she decided not to follow the New York attorney general’s lead and sue Trump over accusations Trump University seminars swindled people. The timeline of that fall 2013 episode raised eyebrows. Three days after a Bondi spokeswoman said the attorney general was studying New York’s lawsuit to see whether she wanted to take similar action in Florida, Trump cut a $25,000 check to a committee associated with Bondi’s campaign. That seeming conflict of interest was criticized in the Florida press at the time, but a Bondi spokesperson justified her decision by suggesting no action was necessary because the affected Florida consumers would be compensated if New York won that case.
With Trump now closing in on the Republican presidential nomination, Trump University is under heightened scrutiny. The “university,” which allowed students to purchase expensive CDs and DVDs that they were told would help them get rich via real estate investments, was not actually accredited. The New York lawsuit charges that Trump University “repeatedly deceived students into thinking that they were attending a legally chartered ‘university’” and misled students into believing the so-called experts on investing in real estate would be hand-picked by Trump, according to the New York Daily News.
One of several civil cases ongoing against Trump University may force the candidate to take a break from campaigning this spring and appear as a witness in court.
The Trump University fiasco has also been used as a line of attack by the other GOP candidates. During a debate last month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said, “There are people that borrow $36,000 to go to Trump University, and they’re suing him now … And you know what they got? They got to take a picture with a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump.” Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted out a fake diploma or “certificate of deception” from “Trump University.”
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 3, 2016
During Monday’s rally, Bondi, who previously endorsed Jeb Bush, gave a rather limp explanation for why she’s switching her allegiance to Trump, saying, “You are speaking loud and clear, and Americans are speaking loud and clear,” and, “I always listen to my mom, and my mom is with Donald Trump, and so am I.”