Pam Bondi, Florida’s Republican attorney general who led the unsuccessful fight against Obamacare all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, was among the 16 people named Friday to President-elect Donald J. Trump’s presidential transition team.
First elected in 2010 and term-limited in 2018, Bondi was the earliest high-ranking official in Florida to endorse Trump. She announced her backing of Trump on the eve of Florida’s Republican presidential primary in March, which Trump won handily.
She spoke at the Republican National Convention this summer in Cleveland, and there has been speculation that she would play some role in his administration.
Bondi was a Hillsborough County assistant state attorney who had sent two criminals to Death Row when she decided to run in her first election in 2010 — for the open attorney general seat. Her frequent appearances on Fox News over the previous decade had turned her into a quasi-celebrity among the conservative faithful, led to a friendship with Sean Hannity and netted her an endorsement from Sarah Palin that year.
As attorney general, she took over predecessor Bill McCollum’s case against the U.S. government over the federal health care law, losing when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the law constitutional. In other big cases, she fought, unsuccessfully, to uphold Florida’s prohibition against same-sex marriage; sued BP over the Deepwater Horizon oil blast that dumped oil into the Gulf of Mexico and onto Florida Panhandle beaches; and crusaded to stop prescription drug abuse, convincing Gov. Rick Scott to support a statewide prescription drug database.
Bondi has been linked politically to Trump at least since 2013, when her office announced it would not act on complaints involving Trump Universityabout the same time a political group supporting her reelection had accepted a $25,000 contribution from the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
But both Bondi and Trump had said there was no connection between the donation and the decision.
She said she had asked Trump for the contribution weeks before the Orlando Sentinel reported that her office was reviewing a complaint by the New York attorney general against Trump University. The contribution came days after the newspaper report.
Her office also said the issue had not risen to Bondi’s level. It said it had reviewed the one Trump University complaint it had received and other complaints originally made to McCollum about the Boca-based Trump Institute, and lower-level staff members concluded that there was no justification to proceed in the New York case.
Trump did wind up paying a $2,500 penalty and reimbursing the Trump Foundation for the $25,000 donation this year because federal tax laws say nonprofits such as the Trump Foundation may not make political gifts.
The New York lawsuit and a separate federal class-action civil lawsuit in California alleged that Trump University — which was largely owned by Trump himself — defrauded consumers by as much as $35,000 each with promises of a real estate investing education that they either did not receive or found to be worthless. The university closed in 2010.
According to the Associated Press, Trump’s attorneys on Thursday agreed to enter settlement talks in the class-action fraud lawsuit, raising the possibility of a quick end to the 6 ½-year-old case just before it goes to trial.