Receiving consumer complaints from former Trump University students, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi considered launching an investigation into the allegations of fraud around the same period when she personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump. According to a recent Associated Press investigation, a spokesman for Bondi admitted the attorney general had terminated the fraud investigation and later endorsed Trump for president after a pro-Bondi group illegally received a $25,000 donation from The Donald J. Trump Foundation, which failed to file the illicit political contribution with the IRS.
On August 25, 2013, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued Donald Trump, the Trump Entrepreneur Institute (formerly Trump University), and Trump University’s former president “for engaging in persistent fraudulent, illegal and deceptive conduct in connection with” the university’s operation. A few weeks later, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was considering whether to prosecute Trump and his university for pulling a scam and ripping off students across several states.
A few days later, the Trump Foundation donated $25,000 to And Justice for All, a pro-Bondi group supporting her 2014 reelection. Due to the fact that Trump Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private foundation, it is prohibited from contributing to political organizations. After making the illegal donation, Trump Foundation falsely claimed it did not donate $25,000 to And Justice for All, a section 527 political organization, on its tax return.
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Bondi spokesman Marc Reichelderfer told AP that Bondi spoke with Trump “several weeks” before announcing a possible fraud lawsuit against him. Although Reichelderfer claims that Bondi had been unaware of the dozens of consumer complaints that her office had received against Trump University and its affiliates when she requested the political donation, her office falsely claimed that they did not consider combining complaints against Trump University and Trump Institute.
Internal emails revealed that Bondi’s staff did combine the complaints together, just as the New York Attorney General’s office had done.
Despite the fact that Bondi’s office received more than 20 consumer complaints against Trump University and its affiliates for defrauding as much as $35,000 per person, Bondi reported only receiving one complaint when she terminated the investigation into Trump. Instead of avoiding the fact that his foundation illegally donated $25,000 to support an attorney general responsible for investigating him, Trump boasted at an Iowa rally in January, “When I want something, I get it. When I call, they kiss my ass. It’s true.”
Besides Bondi, then-Texas Attorney Greg Abbott later received $35,000 from Trump after dismissing a lawsuit against Trump University in 2010. Both Bondi and Abbott, who is now the governor of Texas, have endorsed Trump for president.