The Slatest

Florida AG Spiked Probe Into Trump University After Receiving a Campaign Donation From Donald Trump

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The circumstances surrounding Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s abrupt decision not to investigate Trump University in 2013 have always been hazy. Late Monday night, the AP released a bombshell report that brought the picture into sharp relief: Bondi, a Republican, “personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump” around the time she announced she was considering joining a probe of Trump University—then, after receiving the check, nixed her office’s plan to take part in the investigation into the institution.


According to the AP, Bondi and Trump spoke “several weeks” before her office announced it was considering joining the New York attorney general’s pending lawsuit against Trump University. Four days after that announcement, a group supporting Bondi called And Justice for All received a $25,000 check from a Trump family foundation, apparently in violation of rules governing charities’ political activity. Shortly after the check arrived, Bondi’s office scrapped its plans to join the lawsuit, insisting it lacked sufficient grounds to proceed.


Previously, Bondi’s office asserted that it received only one complaint about Trump University. But as the Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell reported over the weekend, there were at least 20 complaints related to the university and its affiliates, and as many as 100 into the Trump Group. The complaints included stories of Florida residents who were driven into bankruptcy by Trump University’s continual demands for money. Bondi’s predecessor also received numerous complaints about Trump’s businesses.


Bondi isn’t the only state attorney general to engage in questionable dealings with Trump. The AP previously reported that then–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott received a $35,000 donation from Trump to fund his gubernatorial campaign. Abbott, now the governor of that state, had previously announced an investigation into Trump University; Trump’s money arrived after he dropped the probe.

Investigators had sought restitution for more than 450 Texans who gave money to the business and were preparing to force the company to pay $5.4 million in restitution, damages, and attorneys’ fees. All that went out the window when Abbott nixed the investigation. In return, Trump University did agree to leave Texas—but the business collapsed altogether shortly thereafter. Abbott alleges that he drove Trump University out of Texas. But former Texas investigator John Owens, who had gone undercover to look into shady tactics at Trump University, disputed Abbott’s account to CNN, calling the decision to drop the investigation “absolutely political” and describing Abbott’s own narrative as “false.”

The emerging details of Trump’s dealings with Bondi and Abbott—who both support his presidential campaign—align neatly with his own description of his relationship with politicians.

“I’ve got to give to them,” Trump said in January, referring to politicians, “because when I want something I get it. When I call, they kiss my ass.”

Read more Slate coverage of Trump University.