A Massachusetts lawyer who previously filed state ethics and elections complaints against Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has asked federal prosecutors to level bribery charges against her and Donald Trump.
Whitfield Larrabee, a Boston trial attorney, filed complaints with U.S. Attorney’s offices in New York and Tallahassee on Wednesday alleging the violation of federal bribery laws stemming from Bondi’s personal solicitation of $25,000 from Trump in 2013 for her political committee.
Bondi’s office was reviewing complaints against Trump University, an entity owned by Trump that offered real estate investment seminars, from attendees who said the seminars were worthless and they were bilked out of thousands of dollars.
After receiving the Trump donation, Bondi opted not to take action against him or Trump University or the Trump Initiative, an entity not owned by Trump but which used his name under a licensing agreement and offered similar real estate investing seminars.
Larrabee said there should be enough evidence to prompt criminal charges against Bondi.
“If it looks like a bribe and quacks like a bribe, I think it’s a bribe,” Larrabee said.
Bondi has previously said she referred complaining customers to a class-action lawsuit against Trump University in New York, which is still ongoing. But she also decided not to join that lawsuit, even though Florida has participated in other multi-state lawsuits.
The Orlando Sentinel reported on Sept. 13, 2013, that Bondi’s office was looking into the Trump complaints. Campaign finance records show Bondi’s political committee, And Justice for All, received the $25,000 donation from Trump on Sept. 17, 2013.
“Evidence strongly indicates that Bondi’s decision not to initiate or participate in litigation against Trump University was given in exchange for Trump’s contribution based on the short time period between the receipt of the political contribution and the announcement of Bondi’s decision not to participate in the New York litigation,” Larrabee’s complaint states.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Bondi’s political consultant Marc Reichelderfer said she personally solicited the donation from Trump. Larrabee filed state ethics and elections complaints against Bondi over the Trump donation after the report was published.
Those complaints are still being reviewed, but Bondi called the allegations untrue. A spokeswoman for Bondi did not respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday.
Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott has called the allegations politically motivated. Larrabee has said it is his duty to alert authorities to unethical behavior. He said he is not registered as a Democrat but plans to vote for Hillary Clinton in the November election.
The Trump donation has re-emerged as an issue this year as Trump led a successful campaign to become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. The Center for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington filed an IRS complaint over the donation in February, since it came from Trump’s charity, the Trump Foundation. Under federal law charities are prohibited from political donations. Trump’s campaign said it was a “clerical error.”