It’s time to diffuse the tension between Florida Attorney Gen. Pam Bondi and released celebrity felon, O.J. Simpson.
Bondi, who rarely misses a chance for shameless grandstanding, wrote a legally frivolous letter to Simpson’s Nevada parole board last week, suggesting that the soon-to-be-sprung Simpson would not be welcomed back in Florida.
“Our state should not become a country club for this convicted criminal,” Bondi wrote.
Simpson was released days later from Nevada’s Lovelock Correctional Center after serving nine years for robbery and kidnapping. He’s staying in Nevada now, but has expressed an interest in moving back to Florida, where he had lived after a Los Angeles jury cleared him of the murder of his wife and her friend.
“Floridians are well aware of Mr. Simpson’s background, his wanton disregard for the lives of others, and of his scofflaw attitude with respect to the heinous acts for which he has been found civilly liable,” Bondi wrote.
Dial it back, Pam.
Because I’m guessing when some people hear words about the wanton disregard for the lives of others, and a scofflaw attitude for civilly liable actions, their first image might be of Florida’s governor Rick Scott pleading the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination 75 times over his role as a hospital administrator in the largest Medicare fraud case of its time.
It’s not like we Floridians have some morally superior reputation to uphold.
When Alcee Hastings got impeached as a federal judge for his role in a bribery case, Floridians didn’t shun him. They elected him to the U.S. Congress, where he has been serving admirably for the past 24 years.
If you’ve got a complicated personal history, Florida’s the place to be. I can’t imagine any local real estate agent or tourism official ever uttering the words, “We encourage people to come here, but if there’s one thing we won’t stand for in this state, it’s sketchy characters.”
Last year’s release of the Panama Papers showed that a healthy share of our luxury condos in South Florida are owned by foreign crooks who’ve looted the treasuries of their own countries and laundered that money by investing in Florida real estate through opaque shell companies.
We’re the no-questions-asked state.
Let’s face it, Florida’s main national purpose is to serve as America’s destination of last resort. It has been a safe haven for anybody fleeing taxes, cold weather, foreign despots or the law.
And it would be cruel to expect Simpson to start a new life in a state like Iowa, Kentucky or Idaho, where he would surely be isolated.
In Florida, he’d blend right in.
We already have 10.4 percent of Florida’s at-large adult population ineligible to vote due to their prior felony convictions, the highest concentration of non-voting felons in the nation.
And Simpson would hardly break new ground in the pantheon of Sunshine State scoundrels, which have included Casey Anthony, Bernie Madoff and under-punished billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Perhaps this is why Simpson’s lawyer, Malcolm LaVergne, took great umbrage to Bondi’s letter.
LaVergne called Bondi “possibly the stupidest person on the planet.”
Which clearly isn’t true.
Dial it back, Malcolm.
There’s that Florida woman who got into a fender-bender while trying to shave her pubic hair while driving in the Florida Keys, and that Florida man who stopped for a sit-down meal at the KFC with the bag full of the $10,000 he had just stolen from a Gainesville bank in the same shopping plaza.
Bondi is surely smarter than them. Although, she did once ask Gov. Scott to reschedule an execution because it posed a conflict with her campaign event.
And yes, Bondi did waste about a half-million dollars fighting gay marriage, saying that it would cause “great public harm” while using this argument:
“Florida’s marriage laws, then have a close direct relationship to society’s legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units,” she claimed.
That’s not the brightest tact to take for someone who is twice-divorced and childless.
But let’s not get carried away here.
Bondi will soon be moving on to a drug-commission appointment from President Donald Trump, which is good news for all of us. And chances are excellent that Simpson — no matter where he lives — will only be a potential problem to those who marry him or collect his memorabilia.
So we’ll survive this. We’re Floridians. We can handle this.