Pam Bondi Archives - Page 7 of 23 - SaintPetersBlog

D.C. watchdog group calls for ethics investigation of Pam Bondi over Trump University

A Washington watchdog group says an investigation is needed to determine if Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi violated the law by failing to investigate or take legal action regarding complaints against Trump University and related entities after the Trump Foundation made a $25,000 contribution to a political committee supporting her.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) says their own investigation has found Bondi’s office received at least 22 complaints regarding Trump University, the Trump Institute, and related entities between February 2008 and May 2011. As was reported by the Orlando Sentinel Oct. 13, 2013, the Florida Office of Attorney General said they were reviewing the allegations brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman against Trump University and Donald Trump.

Four days after that, Bondi’s political committee received the $25,000 check from the Trump Foundation. A month after receiving the contribution, the Attorney General’s office said “there was no consideration of whether to join” the New York lawsuit. OAG also may have decided around this time not to investigate the complaints it received.

“The apparent timing of decisions not to take legal action against Trump University or the Trump Institute are deeply concerning,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder in a statement. “Before the donation arrived, the Attorney General’s office told the press it was considering taking action against Trump University, but soon after the money came, the office made it clear that no action would be taken.”

CREW has sent letters to Florida Inspector General Steve Rumph and Stanley Wesson with the Florida Commission on Ethics, calling on both offices to investigate immediately.

“The facts remain murky, but if decisions not to investigate Mr. Trump’s businesses were linked to Attorney General Bondi’s solicitation and acceptance of a $25,000 campaign contribution from the Trump Foundation, she may have violated Florida law and the state’s standards of conduct for public officials,” said Bookbinder.

Last month, Bondi’s office rejected allegations the campaign donation from Trump was in any way connected to her office’s decision not to pursue action against Trump University.

“While there was never an investigation, staff, doing due diligence, reviewed the complaints and the New York litigation and made the proper determination that the New York litigation would provide relief to aggrieved consumers nationwide,” Bondi spokesman Whitney Ray told CNN. Bondi said her office has “made public every document on this issue, which shows no one in my office ever opened an investigation on Trump University nor was there a basis for doing so. Any news story that suggests otherwise is completely false.”

Bondi endorsed Donald Trump for president March 14 in Tampa, the day before the Florida presidential primary election. The controversy has not dampened her ardor for the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, as Bondi appeared at a Trump rally at the Tampa Convention Center last month.

This is not the first complaint filed against Bondi regarding Trump University.

Last week, Politico reported Massachusetts attorney J. Whitfield Larabee filed federal complaints seeking criminal indictments tied to allegations Donald Trump “bribed” Bondi by donating $25,000 to her political committee as she was reviewing complaints related to his now-defunct real estate school. Larrabee’s charges included the same allegations included in complaints he filed with Florida ethics and elections officials earlier in June.

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Anderson Cooper talks about Pam Bondi interview during Orlando benefit

Anderson Cooper said he had every right to ask Attorney General Pam Bondi about her stance on gay marriage during an Orlando interview earlier this month.

“I wasn’t asking her about things she had done a year before out of the blue,” said Cooper of his now infamous interview with Bondi in the days following the mass shooting at an Orlando night club. “It was something she said Sunday and something she said that day on another network. I thought I was in my rights to do that, and clearly she wasn’t happy with how it all ended up.”

Earlier this month, Cooper called out Bondi for her office’s decision to defend the state’s ban on same sex marriage. In the wake of the shooting, which happened at a gay nightclub, Bondi said anyone who does harm to the LGBTQ community will be “gone after” to the fullest extent of the law.

But Cooper — who was in Orlando with his friend and Bravo host Andy Cohen on Thursday for a benefit to support victims of the shooting — said he had heard from many people in the gay community that they resented her decision to defend the ban.

Cooper, who publicly came out as gay in 2012, said people he was talking to were pointing out Bondi’s statements following the shooting were “antithetical to things that she said previously.”

“I think anyone who has run for office, is holding office deserves respect. They’re dedicating their time and their service and all of that,” he told Cohen. “But I also think its my job to confront people with their statements that they made that day and the day before and how that jives with things they’ve said in the past.”

Cooper and Cohen brought their popular AC2 show to Orlando Thursday to benefit the OneOrlando Fund. According to the Dr. Phillips Center, 100 percent of the proceeds went to the fund.

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Patrick Murphy endorsed by Florida Police Benevolent Association

After enduring his worst week as a candidate since declaring that he was running for the senate over a year ago, Jupiter Representative Patrick Murphy has received a nice boost in his campaign to succeed Marco Rubio in Washington, procuring the endorsement from the Florida Police Benevolent Association.

“The Florida PBA is proud to endorse Patrick Murphy because we know the he will stand with our police officers and first responders in the U.S. Senate,” said PBA President John Rivera. “Patrick is the leader that our officers need to ensure that they can continue keeping our communities safe. As the organization that advocates for Florida’s police officers, we trust Patrick Murphy to advocate for us.”

In 2014, the Florida PBA endorsed Democrat Charlie Crist for governor, but also supported the rest of the GOP-laden cabinet, backing AG Pam Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in their bids for reelection.

“I’m proud to receive the endorsement of the brave men and women at the Florida PBA,” said Murphy in a statement supplied by his campaign. “Every day, our officers put their lives on the line to protect us and they deserve our full support. In the U.S. Senate, I will stand with our police officers and first responders to make sure they have the resources necessary to keep Florida safe. Our communities and families are safer and stronger because of their hard work, and I am humbled to have them standing with me in this campaign.”

Murphy unveiled his plan to reform the criminal justice system earlier this month in Hollywood at the Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue Gala. Among those proposals include legislation mandating that all police officers be equipped with body cameras (though a bill called the Police CAMERA Act, which would increase funding for states and local governments). Murphy also  is supporting the TRUST (the Tracking Reputations Upgrades Society Trust) Act, which would measure public trust in law enforcement via the National Crime Victimization Survey, which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Justice Statistics.  That proposed legislation (sponsored by Florida Democrat Corrine Brown) calls for areas where the level of public trust in the police force is problematically low; the Attorney General would submit recommendations to improve confidence in law enforcement and address systemic problems before conflicts escalate.

Murphy is opposing Alan Grayson and Pam Keith in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

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Mitch Perry Report for 6.28.16 – SCOTUS ruling on McDonnell case must delight compromised politicos across the land

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday unanimously overturned former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s conviction on corruption charges.

In case you’ve forgotten, McDonnell and his wife Maureen accepted more than $175,000 in nice gifts, such as $6,000 Rolex watches and $20,000 in designer clothing from a dude named Jonnie Williams, who was swarming around the couple in hopes that the governor would help some of his businesses, most prominently diet supplements.

But apparently there was never a smoking gun.

“There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that,” wrote Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in the majority opinion. “But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications of the government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute.”

 The High Court said there was no “quo” in the quid pro quo allegation.

I do believe those politicians whose reputations are shall we say, a bit unsavory, were high-fiving anybody with their arm reach yesterday when they read the news.

Corruption? No doubt New York lawmakers  Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos  and their lawmakers were pleased after the SCOTUS decision.

Sheldon was the state assembly speaker, Skelos the Senate Majority Leader. The two men were separately convicted of various bribery and fraud charges last year and immediately ejected from office. They haven’t served any time yet, as their bail-pending-appeal hearings were postponed until after the McDonnell decision came down.

Susan Lerner, executive director of good-government group Common Cause/NY, told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that the court “lives in a fantasy land that defies the common sense understanding of two New York juries.”

“By confirming that a pay-to-play culture is an inherent part of day-to-day politics, the Supreme Court has opened the floodgates for special interest groups to influence politicians, at the expense of American democracy,” Lerner added.

The McDonnell case could complicate the feds charges against New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Melendez, who is accused of using his office to benefit a South Florida optometrist in exchange for more than $1 million in gifts and campaign contributions.

In other news..

The Reverend Manuel Sykes won’t be the ballot this year in the HD 70 race, and it’s all because of a missed signature.

Eric Lynn says that despite what it might look like, he’s doing remarkably well in fundraising as he gets nearer the two-month timespan before he’ll face fellow Democrat Ben Diamond in the HD 68 race.

Both candidates were endorsed by the Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas County over the weekend, while Lynn exclusively earned the backing from the Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women.

And Stacy Frank, who had become seriously ill with cancer in recent months, passed away over the weekend. The Hillsborough Democrat will be fiercely missed by her friends and family.

Last week’s vote by the Hillsborough MPO to include the controversial TBX into the Transportation Improvement Program is still upsetting local residents in Tampa. On Monday, two critics of the FDOT proposal blasted the Tampa Bay Partnership’s support for the program, and said that an email that was sent out by an official with the group last week was meant to “intimidate”the four MPO members who opposed the project.

Rick Scott was in Tampa, where we asked him if he would be actively campaigning for Carlos Beruff, now that he’s spoken so highly of him in the Senate race vs. Marco Rubio.

The Governor was in Tampa at an event with those working to combat human trafficking in Florida, along with Attorney General Pam Bondi and Dover Republican state Representative Ross Spano.

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Florence Snyder: Where the Sun don’t shine

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is not the worst offender in Florida’s never-ending War on Open Government.

It just gets caught in the act more often than fellow offenders at the state, county and municipal levels.

That’s because DCF is one of the few agencies left which ever has to contend with watchdog journalism.

DCF chieftains, lawyers and flacks are well-acquainted with the well-oiled BS detector of the Miami Herald’s Carol Marbin Miller, a veteran investigative reporter who knows the difference between transparency, and transparent nonsense.

But they keep trying to buffalo her, anyway.

The latest example involves the case of Sophia Hines. She’s currently residing in the Broward County jail, charged with suffocating her infant son and toddler daughter. Hines, a resident of Pennsylvania, had been receiving services from that state’s child welfare authorities.

Marbin Miller “cobbled together” some of the sad story of how Hines ended up in Florida and the children ended up dead, but only after days of being diddled by DCF while its lawyers tried and failed to come up with a good excuse to keep secrets on Pennsylvania’s behalf.

“Though child protection records remain sealed in Pennsylvania, they are considered public record in Florida when a youngster dies from abuse or neglect,” Marbin Miller reports in her June 25 front-page story. “For about two weeks, the Florida Department of Children & Families sought to shield records of the Hines children from disclosure, saying Pennsylvania’s confidentiality extended to Florida, a claim First Amendment lawyers disputed. DCF ultimately relented, and released all of the records to the Herald Friday.”

State agencies employ an army of well-paid lawyers and “communications professionals” to play public records keep-away. They do it — with our money — because they can.

It’s been decades since Florida had an elected statewide official who paid much more than lip service to open government.

In 1992, Florida voters passed, by an 83 percent majority, Amendment 24 to Article 1 of the state constitution. Nicknamed the Sunshine Amendment, it was supposed to drench existing open government laws in a thick coat of permanent sunlight.

Almost immediately, the Legislature began throwing shade and thumbing its nose at voters.

The First Amendment Foundation, which has the depressing task of keeping track, reports that since 1995, the Legislature has passed 240 bills creating exemptions to our open government laws.

The contempt for open government is entirely bipartisan; more than half those bills were approved unanimously by both Legislative chambers. The Senate, which loves to call itself the more “deliberative” chamber, has approved exemptions unanimously 151 times.

Florida’s current attorney general, Pam Bondi, spends a lot of public money in court and a lot of time on cable news “defending” gun rights and gay marriage bans. She insists she’s just doing her job, protecting Florida’s Constitution and guarding against “federal overreach.”

Bondi is far less aggressive when it comes to protecting Florida’s constitutional right of access to public records and meetings. Like most of her recent predecessors, Democrat and Republican alike, Bondi has treated the Sunshine Amendment as an unloved, unwanted poor relation. Think Catelyn Stark and Jon Snow.

In the wake of the June 12 mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, reporters requested documents about the killer and the police response — which are plainly public record under Florida law.

Bondi said nothing and did nothing, as federal and local officials told the press to pound sand.

On June 15, Florida Politics’ reporter Jim Rosica asked Bondi for an explanation. She has yet to answer, perhaps because there is no principled answer to be given by an attorney general who claims to be a defender of Florida’s faith in Florida’s Constitution.

___

Florence Beth Snyder is a Tallahassee-based lawyer and consultant.

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In Tampa, Rick Scott highlights the more than $6 million going into programs combating human trafficking in Florida

Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and state Representative Ross Spano were among the public officials who gathered at an event in Tampa on Monday that celebrated  legislation passed this year that will go into combating human trafficking in Florida over the next fiscal year.

Speaking at Mary Lee’s House, a nonprofit child protection and advocacy center serving more than 100 children every week in West Tampa, those public figures were joined by dozens of state and private sector employees who work are in the business of reducing the level of trafficking in the state.

That includes $1 million for Selah Freedom, a Sarasota based national nonprofit that focuses on ending sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. In addition to children, Selah Freedom has a program for women between the ages of 18-26, a demographic that frequently is overlooked, says Elizabeth Fisher, Selah Freedom’s President and CEO.

Selah Freedom also helped to create the Turn Your Life Around program (TYLA), a diversion program so that women involved in sex trafficking don’t get charged with up  to 3 charges of prosecution, which triggers a felony conviction. “With a felony, you can’t get a job, you can’t do anything, so our girls are stuck in the system,” Fisher said.

Other local centers getting funding include Bridging Freedom in Tampa, which acquired $1.2 million in funding, and the Florida Dream Center in St.Petersburg, which received $250,000 for the coming fiscal year.

Also speaking at the Monday morning press conference was a woman identified only as “Brandy,” a 35-year-old woman who says she lived on the streets of Florida for 12 years.

“I also felt very ashamed of myself at those times in my life and never thought life would be anything else but,” she said of her time where she was trafficking. She says that it all changed for her when she became involved with the TYLA program at Selah Freedom.

Scott also recently signed legislation which establishes harsher penalties for human traffickers and protects victimized children from being convicted for criminal charge.

Bondi said that currently, her office has 76 pending defendants and 81 open investigations when it comes to human trafficking in Florida. “These victims are young girls, and now we know young boys, too,” Bondi said.

The Attorney General said those children or young adults are contending with so many issues when they’re able to escape sex trafficking, with many of them being runaways, moved from foster homes, living on the streets, in some cases addicted to drugs and severe emotional issues.

Bondi said that in some cases, such people have been raped, “twenty to forty times a day. A day.Seven days a week. That is human trafficking. It’s real, it’s going on around our country.”

Dover Representative Spano said it was fine to celebrate what’s been achieved, but said there’s far too much work for advocates to congratulate each other too aggressively.”

“We have a lot of work to do,” Spano said. “There are still children and adults out there being held against their will. There are still venues and way in which the bad guys are taking advantage of technology , that we’re having a hard time keeping up with.”

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From Key West to Pensacola, Florida’s LGBT attitudes differ

Florida’s Key West is one of the most gay-friendly places in the country. The Florida Panhandle – many locals call it the Redneck Riviera – is a different story.

The massacre of 49 people in a gay nightclub happened between these extremes, forcing many Floridians to reconsider their assumptions about the state’s evolving culture.

Key West has a gay police chief, a lesbian county mayor and was the nation’s first city to elect an openly gay mayor. It attracts 450,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender tourists a year. Bumper stickers reading “One Human Family” appear on all city vehicles, including police cars, ambulances and fire trucks.

“It’s a safe place; they know that they are free from judgment, free from hassle, free from physical violence,” said Guy Ross, who heads LGBT sales at the Monroe County Tourist Development Council. “We do not tolerate gay bashing down here. It just doesn’t happen.”

Drive 780 miles north and west to the gleaming, white-sand beaches of the Panhandle, and you’ll find “family friendly” towns that aren’t known for welcoming gays.

After gay marriage became legal in Florida in 2014, the Santa Rosa County clerk stopped performing any wedding ceremonies – gay or straight – to avoid marrying same-sex couples. In Pensacola, a small LBGT community center called Equality House closed for lack of funds after less than three years.

The attack in central Florida on June 12 – Latin Night at the Pulse club in Orlando – has drawn an outpouring of solidarity, but also fear, particularly among people who saw the tourist mecca as a refuge from hatred.

The shooting also created awkward moments for some of Florida’s Republican and conservative Christian leaders, who tried to show compassion even as they defended positions gays and lesbians find hurtful.

“There are two Floridas,” and between them there’s a “patchwork,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of the gay and transgender rights group Equality Florida.

Only 56 percent of the people in the nation’s third-most populous state live in communities that have enacted non-discrimination protections. The state provides “no protections whatsoever,” she said.

Year after year, Florida’s Republican-led Legislature has rejected legislation prohibiting discrimination for reasons of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“When I drive from where I live in the Tampa Bay area to my hometown in the Panhandle, I have to weave my way through places that have full protections for me and my family and places where they’re absolutely indifferent to the discrimination my community faces,” Smith said.

Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi came to Orlando and was put on the spot by CNN’s Anderson Cooper after she vowed to prosecute anyone who attacks the LGBT community.

Cooper asked her to respond to the many gays and lesbians who call her a hypocrite because she spent hundreds of thousands of tax dollars trying to uphold the state’s gay marriage ban.

In her defense, Bondi said she had an obligation to represent the will of the voters, and added that her own views are reflected by a photo of clasped, rainbow-colored hands that she posted – after the shooting – on her personal Facebook page.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who campaigned against adoptions by gays and lesbians in 2010, didn’t respond directly when asked if the attack made him rethink this position. Scott instead spoke of the need for love, even with “the gays.”

“These are individuals. Let’s love every one of them,” he said.

Down in Key West, Ross dismissed the governor’s statements as “crocodile tears.”

“Scott has no credibility in the LGBT community,” he said.

The Florida Family Policy Council, which has campaigned against gay rights, issued a statement asking for prayers for the victim’s families after the attack.

That didn’t mean much for Smith.

“It’s hard to accept them praying for us in tragedy when they prey on us when it comes to equality,” she said. “It is very clear who needs protecting in Florida.”

And just because they’re praying, it doesn’t mean their positions on opposing LGBT rights will change. They won’t, said the council’s president, John Stemberger.

Stemberger said it’s “shameless” for the LGBT community to use the attack to “try to leverage a political agenda,” and he doesn’t think changing Florida’s laws would have helped anyway.

“It wouldn’t have made a bit of difference. Pulse would still have happened,” he said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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CD 15 Democrat Jim Lange blasts Dennis Ross for omitting LGBT community in post-Orlando comments

Last week, both Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi came under heavy criticism for showing a lack of support toward the gay community after the Orlando shootings, and now the Democratic opponent of Polk County Republican Congressman Dennis Ross is making the same claim about his initial comments.

Democrat Jim Lange is running against Ross in Florida’s 15th Congressional District this year. In a posting on his Facebook page last week, Lange blasted Ross for failing to mention the LGBT community in the statement he released immediately after the massacre took place on June 12.

“The LGBT community has long considered you an adversary,” Lange’s missive begins. “You have campaigned and legislated against their interests. Yet, in their darkest hour, you decide to issue a 75-word, tone deaf news release within which you fail to even mention the targeted and massacred community by name. Have you no shame?”

This was Ross’ statement, issued June 12:

“Cindy and I are heartbroken by the senseless loss of life that occurred in Orlando. Our community is reeling from this tragedy. I am deeply grateful to our law enforcement officials as they investigate and begin to find answers to this evil act. I ask all Americans to join me in prayer for the victims and their families. Floridians are strong, and we will heal and become stronger. God be with us during this extremely difficult period.”

Lange went further in his post, writing, “You have no moral standing to discuss the pain and anguish caused by the massacre in Orlando. You have consistently demonized this community with your “family values” brand of intolerance. They feel you have some culpability in this hate crime. It’s impossible not to agree. America is hurting now and will be for some time. If you have any shred of decency you will invoke your right to remain silent, as anything you say can and WILL be held against you from this point forward, so help me God.”

Lange (who officially qualified for the ballot on Monday) is running an uphill campaign to try to oust Ross, who has served as the Congressman in CD 15 since 2010.

Two days after the attack, Governor Scott did finally address the fact that the violence that took place occurred at a gay nightclub, tweeting, “We pray for our LGBT community. Our Hispanic community. Our state. Our nation. This was an attack on every American. We are .

Bondi had a noted confrontation with CNN’s Anderson Cooper last Tuesday after he questioned her claims of being an LGBT ally in the wake of the shooting when she once argued that gay marriage would “impose significant public harm.”

A spokesman for Ross’ campaign said that they would not respond to Lange’s comments.

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Christian Ulvert: Pam Bondi’s criticism of Anderson Cooper is “truly unbelievable”

One of the plaintiffs in the fight to overturn Florida’s gay-marriage ban has penned an open letter to Attorney General Pam Bondi, the same week of her feud with CNN newsman Anderson Cooper.

Christian Ulvert, a Miami-based communications consultant, wrote Bondi that he “dismayed by the response you offered to Mr. Cooper regarding your efforts in your relentless fight against the LGBT community.”

Bondi and Cooper have been sniping at each other over a live interview they did Tuesday.

The attorney general later went on talk radio, suggesting she was sandbagged by questions about her defense of the ban in the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando that targeted a gay nightclub.

Cooper said his “job is to hold people accountable.”

“If … a politician is talking about love and embracing ‘our LGBT community,’ then I don’t think it’s unfair to look at their record and see if they have actually ever spoken that way publicly before,” he said Wednesday night on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°.

Ulvert—the Florida Democratic Party’s former political director—married Carlos Andrade in Washington, D.C., in July 2013.

They were one of “eight married same-sex couples to challenge Florida’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state,” according to the ACLU-Florida’s website. That ban and those in other states have been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

While Ulvert said he “greatly appreciate(s) the fact you are in Orlando to lend a voice to the victims of the horrific and tragic event in Orlando,” he added he was disappointed Bondi chose to fight.

“You had the opportunity as Gov. Lawton Chiles once did in saying the state is on the wrong side of history and unable to defend the discriminatory measure in our constitution,” Ulvert said.

“Worse, as the Attorney General of Florida, you declared that gay Floridians like my husband and me posed great harm,” he wrote. “Those aren’t my words, those are yours, because it was done under your control and supervision. You cannot deflect responsibility to one of your lawyers, as you said in the interview.”

Bondi is “right about one thing: These days should be about paying tribute to the victims who were targeted because they were gay,” Ulvert said. “I cannot think of a better way to recognize their loving lives than by demanding action that the days of discrimination in our state are over.

“You had the opportunity to tell Anderson Cooper on live television that the state was wrong for declaring gay Floridians were a harm, and to undo the pain, you would be a leading voice in the call for a statewide non-discrimination bill,” he wrote.

The measure, known as the “Florida Competitive Workforce Act,” died this past session. It aimed to prohibit employment, retail and other discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, amending the state’s Civil Rights Act.

“… Rather than saying times need to change, you attempted to make yourself a victim,” Ulvert said to Bondi. “That is truly unbelievable.”

bondi

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Anderson Cooper to Pam Bondi: Gays think you’re a ‘hypocrite’

CNN’s Anderson Cooper called out Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi for her apparent double standard on sexuality in the wake of the Orlando shooting.

Bondi appeared live in a stand-up interview with Cooper in Orlando that became increasingly testy.

The CNN newsman came out as gay in 2012. Sunday’s shooting took place in a gay nightclub, and shooter Omar Mateen’s father has said his son was incensed by the sight of two men kissing during a recent visit to Miami.

“I talked to a lot of gay and lesbian people here who are not fans of yours,” Cooper said. “They said they thought you were being a hypocrite, that you for years have fought … have basically gone after gay people. You said in court that gay people, simply by fighting for marriage equality, were trying to do harm to the people of Florida.”

At this point in the interview, Bondi can be seen shaking her head. Earlier this week, she had said that anyone who does harm to the LGBTQ community will be “gone after” to the fullest extent of the law.

But many still resent her stance in defense of Florida’s ban on same-sex marriages. It and other state bans were struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

“Do you really think you’re a champion of the gay community?” he asked Bondi.

“Let me tell you, when I was sworn in as attorney general, I put my hand on the Bible and was sworn to uphold the constitution of the state of Florida,” she said, noting the ban was passed by voters in 2008 as a constitutional amendment. “That’s what I was defending. Had nothing to do … I’ve never said I don’t like gay people, that’s ridiculous.”

Bondi went on, “Anderson, I don’t believe gay people could do harm to the state of Florida. We’re human beings.”

“But you argued that in court,” he said.

“My lawyer argued a case defending what the Supreme Court allowed the voters to put in our state constitution,” she said.

Cooper later asked, “Are you saying you did not believe it would do harm to Florida?”

“Of course not, of course not,” Bondi said. “Gay people … no, I’ve never said that. Those words have never come out of my mouth.”

Cooper was relentless, adding, “…Had there been no same-sex marriage, you do realize that spouses, there would be no spouses, that boyfriends and girlfriends of the dead would not be able to get information and would not be able probably even to visit in the hospital here. Isn’t there a sick irony in that?”

“I was defending the constitution of what over 69 percent of the voters put in the constitution,” she said.

Still later, Bondi said, “You know what today is about? Human beings. Today’s about victims.”

“It is about gay and lesbian victims,” Cooper said.

“It sure is. LGBT victims,” she said, adding her office was also dealing with complaints of a local funeral home price-gouging a family of the dead.

“… I’m not championing anything other than Floridians,” Bondi said. “That’s what this is about … this is about victims who need help. This is about family members who need services. That’s what this is about.”

“I will say I have never really seen you talk about gays and lesbians and transgender people in a positive way until now,” Cooper said. “I read your Twitter history for the last year, and I saw you tweeting about, you know, national dog month and national shelter dog appreciation day or adopt a shelter dog month.

“You know, it is gay pride month,” he added. “You’ve never even tweeted about gay pride month.”

“Well, actually if you look at my website now, we have hands clasped together, all different colored rainbow hands, people,” Bondi said. It wasn’t clear what website she was referring to; the official website of the Attorney’s General’s Office had no such graphic on Tuesday.

“My goodness, Anderson, we’ve had 49 people murdered simply because they were in a bar at the wrong time,” she said. “That’s horrible.”

Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and CNN commentator, later tweeted: “Oof! @AGPamBondi & @andersoncooper are my friends. This was painful. Anderson had to raise it. Pam had to defend it.”


Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 5.56.26 PM6 p.m. update: The “hands clasped together” image that Bondi spoke of was actually posted on her personal Facebook page on Sunday.

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