Like clockwork, Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News is coming to the defense of Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was gently criticized in a story by Tia MitchelI of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau for not exactly occupying Tallahassee. Rather, Bondi apparently splits her time between the capital and a home in Tampa.
Bondi appears to be often working from a Tampa agency field office near her home, according to her official schedule, which was obtained by the Times/Herald via a public record request. When she travels to Tallahassee, it is often for required meetings of the Cabinet and state Clemency Board, reports Mitchell.
There are no rules precluding this kind of arrangement, and statewide office holders past and present have similarly worked from offices near their primary residence (Lord knows my political idol, Charlie Crist, split time between St. Petersburg and Tally.)
Smith sees Mitchell’s reporting as an attempt to rein in a courageous elected official “who had the guts to break out of the Tallahassee bubble.”
Smith is right that it’s not a bad idea for our statewide officials to, you know, travel the state, Smith’s explanation for Bondi’s sojourns may not be the best defense of her wanderlust.
“Everywhere you look these days, there she is, laughing it up with Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, working the GOP mystique with Rudy Giuliani in Tampa, guest-gabbing on national television,” writes Smith. “Face it, Pam Bondi has manufactured a little celebrity and become a darling of the Republican Party.”
There is no denying Bondi’s celebrity and hopefully she had a wonderful time in the Granite State, but what exactly does glad-handing with Giuliani have to do with governing?
Pam Bondi can sun herself on a beach, so long as she’s reviewing court briefs. She can camp out at Universal Studios, so long as she’s prosecuting pill mill operators. But “laughing it up with Mitt Romney” or “guest-gabbing on national television” as Smith describes Bondi’s activities is not what taxpayers expect from their Attorney General.
I’m sure Bondi is actually hard at work, voicing concerns about the settlement with BP or wrangling restitution from companies perpetrating Medicare fraud. But Smith’s column makes Bondi sound as if she’s auditioning for a job in the next presidential administration.
General Bondi, you may want to reach out to Nancy Smith and ask her not to stick up for you anymore.