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Whoops: Donald Trump reps say 2013 contribution to Pam Bondi was mistake

in 2017/Top Headlines by

A 2013 re-election contribution to Attorney General Pam Bondi from Donald Trump‘s charitable foundation was an error, aides to the Republican presidential candidate said this week.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday morning that Trump’s representatives said the $25,000 check to a fundraising panel benefiting Bondi went out when a clerk confused it with a similarly-named organization. Foundations like Trump’s are banned under federal rules from political activity, including giving contributions.

It also wasn’t clear whether Bondi has to or would return the money to the foundation; a spokesman has declined comment on the matter and the entity that received the money is out of existence. Bondi supports Trump’s bid for president.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, Monday filed a complaint against Trump’s foundation, saying it violated its tax-exempt status for making the contribution.

The group also said the foundation failed to disclose the contribution. In lieu of paying taxes, nonprofits generally are required to file an annual financial disclosure, known as a Form 990, to the federal government. Those reports are public record.

It’s all in the name: In 2013, Bondi had an electioneering communications organization named “And Justice for All,” which disbanded in July 2014. Such groups, called ECOs for short, can only pay for things such as television, radio or digital ads.

The Donald Trump Foundation eventually reported a $25,000 donation to the similarly named “Justice for All,” a Kansas nonprofit that trains anti-abortion activists, which never got any money, according to the Post.

Adding to the confusion is another group that a Trump accounting clerk thought was the beneficiary of the donation: “And Justice for All,” a Utah organization that “helps poor people and those with disabilities navigate the legal system,” the Post reported. It didn’t get any money either.

Unmentioned in the Post story is that Bondi now has an active political committee called “Justice for All” that opened in August 2013, raised nearly $2 million and currently has just over $160,000 in cash on hand. Political committees are not as limited in what they can spend money on as ECOs are.

Moreover, it still isn’t clear who initiated the request for a donation or how the money wound up in Bondi’s ECO.

“The check got cut, and after that, I don’t know exactly where it ended up,” Allen Weisselberg, the Trump foundation treasurer, told the Post. “It must have gone, I guess, to Pam Bondi. We spoke to our accountants, our tax attorneys in Washington, and they say these things happen all the time.”

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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