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Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi Tried To Return Controversial $25,000 Donation From Trump

The Associated Press

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi tried to return a controversial $25,000 donation from Donald Trump's foundation, but it was not accepted, an accountant who works for Bondi said.

The Trump Foundation gave the money to Bondi's political committee in September 2013, but renewed questions about it were raised shortly after Bondi endorsed Trump for president earlier this year.

Nancy Watkins, the treasurer of a political committee run by Bondi, said this week that the group sent a check to the Trump Foundation in March after they became aware the foundation was a charity, an apparent violation of the rules surrounding political activities by charities.

Watkins said the Trump Foundation refused to accept the check, saying Trump wrote a personal check to his foundation covering the amount.

"They rejected it and sent it back," said Watkins.

A spokeswoman for Trump did not immediately respond to an email Tuesday asking about the donation.

The Washington Post reported in March that Trump aides acknowledged that the Trump Foundation made a mistake when it donated the money to Bondi's political committee. The newspaper also reported that the campaign and the treasurer of the foundation were unaware of the mistake until they were notified that a group had filed a complaint with the IRS about the donation.

The Associated Press reported Monday that Bondi personally solicited the contribution from Donald Trump around the same time her office was being asked about a New York investigation of alleged fraud at Trump University and its affiliates.

A political group backing Bondi's re-election, called And Justice for All, reported receiving the check Sept. 17, 2013 — four days after Bondi's office was quoted as saying they were reviewing the New York investigation of Trump University's activities. Ultimately, Bondi's office took no action.

Marc Reichelderfer, a political consultant who worked for Bondi's 2014 re-election, told the AP this week that Bondi spoke with Trump "several weeks" before the contribution was received. Reichelderfer said that Bondi was unaware of complaints received about Trump's real-estate seminars at the time she requested the donation.

All told, more than 20 people requested help from the Florida attorney general's office in obtaining refunds from Trump University and affiliates, with Bondi's predecessor receiving numerous other complaints about the seminar company Trump partnered with. Many of the Trump-related consumers alleged that they paid money for training materials and personalized instruction which were never delivered.

Bondi's office said back in 2013 that it had it received only a single complaint about Trump University because most of the complaints dealt with the Trump Institute, a separate corporate entity from Trump University, and were made before she took office at the start of 2011. But emails from Bondi's office show that her top staff were made aware of the lawsuit filed in August 2013 by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Several Florida Democrats on Tuesday called for an "independent investigation" of Bondi's activities, although they did not say exactly who should conduct that investigation. House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford called Bondi's conduct "unacceptable" and said Floridians deserve a "full accounting."

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