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Pam Bondi

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Pam Bondi
Pam Bondi.jpg
Attorney General of Florida
Incumbent
In office
2011 - present
Term ends
January 2019
Years in position 4
PartyRepublican
PredecessorBill McCollum (R)
Compensation
Base salary$128,972
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 2, 2010
Campaign $$2,583,702
Term limitsN/A
Education
High schoolKing High School (1983)
Bachelor'sUniversity of Florida (1987)
J.D.Stetson Law School (1990)
Personal
Date of birthNovember 17, 1966
Place of birthTampa, Florida
Websites
Office website
Personal website
Pam Bondi (born November 17, 1966, in Tampa, Florida) is the 37th and current Republican Attorney General of Florida. Bondi was elected to the position on November 2, 2010, winning the general election over Democrat Dan Gelber with 54.8 percent of the vote. She was sworn in the following January. Bondi began her second term in the attorney general's office on January 6, 2015, following her successfuly bid for re-election in 2014.[1] She was uncontested in the Republican primary and overcame two challengers, Democrat George Sheldon and Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer, in the general election on November 4, 2014.

Before becoming attorney general, Bondi served as both a prosecutor and an Assistant State Attorney in the Thirteenth Judicial District.[2] She was a felony bureau chief and member of internal homicide, vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter committees.[3] She resigned as a front-line prosecutor in order to pursue election to her current post as Florida's chief law enforcement officer.

As attorney general, Bondi has gained national attention for her leadership in the Republican-led battle to repeal the Affordable Care Act, popularly referred to as "Obamacare." Florida was the lead plaintiff in the 26 state lawsuit against the federal government's health care overhaul which ultimately failed after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold the law in the summer of 2012.[4] Her first term will also be remembered for her championing legislation known as the "pill mill" bill in 2011 created to combat the prescription drug-abuse epidemic in Florida.[5]

Biography

The 37th Attorney General of Florida was born in Tampa, Florida. She graduated from King High School in 1983 and went on to receive her bachelor's degree from the University of Florida in 1987. Following college, Bondi went straight into Stetson Law School, where she completed her J.D. three years later. Law degree in hand, she launched her career immediately upon graduation.

Bondi served as a front-line prosecutor in the state of Florida for eighteen years. Before resigning in order to campaign as State Attorney General, she worked as an assistant state attorney for the thirteenth judicial district. In addition to these roles, Bondi has acted as Vice Chair of the Florida Bar Grievance Committee and is a member of the DUI manslaughter committee.

Bondi was recognized by the Tampa Bay Review as a 2001 Lawyers of Distinction Award recipient. Apart from her professional duties, she is also a member of the Tampa Bay United Way and of the University of Florida Gator Club Board of Directors.

Education

  • Graduated from King High School (1983)
  • Bachelor's degree (in criminal justice), University of Florida (1987)
  • Juris Doctorate degree, Stetson Law School (1990)

Political Career

Attorney General (2011-present)

Bondi was elected the 37th Attorney General of Florida on November 2, 2010, and took office the next January. She won a second term in the 2014 elections.

Controversies

Firing of Gerald Bailey

Gov. Rick Scott has attracted scrutiny, criticism within his own party and a lawsuit following his removal of state Department of Law Enforcement head Gerald Bailey on December 16, 2014. The governor's office first responded to questions about Bailey's removal on January 13, 2015, by indicating that the former department head made the decision to resign. On January 28, Scott stated that Bailey was asked to step down voluntarily and complied with the request. Scott's advisors told the press in early February that Bailey had been instructed to prepare his successor, Rick Swearingen, as his replacement for an undisclosed resignation date. Bailey, who had served in the office for eight years, refuted these differing stories by the Scott administration, noting that "when the governor's office gives you until 3 o'clock to resign, you're not working out anything with your successor." A Miami Herald profile of Scott advisor Melissa Sellers on February 7 indicated that Sellers pushed for Bailey's removal due to disagreements over Scott's discussions of law enforcement in his 2014 campaign.[6][7]

Criticism by cabinet members

The head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports not only to the governor but three other constitutional officers: the Florida Attorney General, the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and the Florida Chief Financial Officer. All three offices are held by Republicans but Scott's fellow party members criticized his actions. Attorney General Pam Bondi has stated that she believes Bailey's removal was handled by Scott's staff without his knowledge and indicated that the state's "sunshine laws" might have been violated. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam offered pointed criticism of Scott's actions by suggesting that Scott worked behind the scenes to add an ally in the department. Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater raised these concerns at a February 5 meeting of the governor's cabinet, which led to revelations that aides were holding substantive policy discussions covered by state open-records laws.[8][9]

In their own words

  • Pam Bondi: "We all knew there were going to be changes made in the upcoming months, but did I know that Jerry Bailey was going to be told he was fired and have his things packed up, his entire life as a career law enforcement officer in a cardboard box, and be told to be out of the office before the end of the day? Absolutely not. Nor do I believe the governor knew it."
  • Adam Putnam: "At best, you would say that there was a great miscommunication, but we were misled as to the timing and the process of how that would be handled. . . . Jerry Bailey's a fine man. He served our state very well, and the way he was treated at the end of his distinguished career was shabby."
  • Jeff Atwater: "I was not aware of any discontent. There was none between myself and the commissioner. I was not aware of any others. I was not aware of any other friction that existed. To that extent, I have to accept my share of responsibility."[8]
  • Rick Scott: "Jerry Bailey was given the opportunity to step down. He did. He was given that opportunity, and then he waited until after Rick Swearingen was confirmed by the entire Cabinet and made his attacks. The attacks against me are absolutely untrue, and they're ridiculous."[8]
Lawsuit

On February 3, 2015, the Florida Society of News Editors, the Associated Press and attorney Matthew Weidner filed a lawsuit against Scott, Putnam, Atwater and Bondi alleging violations of the state's open-records laws. The lawsuit argues that:

The governor violated the Sunshine Law by using conduits to engage in polling, discussions, communications and other exchanges with other members of the Cabinet regarding his unilateral decision to force the resignation of the FDLE commissioner and appoint a replacement without any notice to the public, without any opportunity for the public to attend, and without any minutes being taken. [10]

Miami Herald, (2015), [11]

Weidner and the other parties in the lawsuit want a state judge to clarify whether open-records laws were broken and force the Scott administration to be more transparent with their meetings. The February 3rd lawsuit coincided with a letter by First Amendment Foundation founder Barbara Petersen to Bondi requesting a special prosecutor to investigate the situation. Petersen objected to a potential investigation by state attorney Willie Meggs, who she noted has previously been a dinner guest at the governor's mansion. Meggs rejected a request by Weidner to investigate the Scott administration prior to the lawsuit.[11]

Prescription drug abuse legislation

In 2011, Bondi championed legislation known as the "pill mill" bill to address the prescription drug-abuse epidemic in Florida. For her efforts to enhance the state's drug monitoring system and intensify enforcement laws and penalties for suppliers and abusers, she was awarded the Leadership Award by the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators. She was also bestowed with special recognition awards by the Florida Police Chiefs Association and the Florida Board of Medicine Chairman.[12]

Healthcare reform

See also: State Attorneys General Against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

Florida was the lead plaintiff in the 26 state lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, the federal government's health care overhaul. Bondi chose attorney Paul Clement to argue the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which began hearing oral arguments on March 23, 2012. Throughout the Supreme Court hearings, Bondi repeated familiar themes to the press: contesting the law's constitutionality, insisting that Florida, which, under Gov. Rick Scott has been defiantly refusing millions in federal health care grants intrinsic to the law, cannot afford the extra $1 billion in Medicaid costs the state will have to pay beginning in 2018 if the law was not struck down.[4] "Our state cannot survive that way," Bondi said in a March 27 news conference while surrounded by other participating attorneys general.[4]

On June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to uphold the Affordable Care Act, with Chief Justice Roberts providing the deciding vote.[13] The landmark decision was hailed as an at least partial-victory by both ends of the political spectrum. Those who defended the President's healthcare overhaul from the beginning felt the ruling vindicated the President and the law against accusations of unconstitutionality; those who opposed the law, including the 26 attorneys general who instigated the legal challenge, felt likewise redeemed insofar as two key provisos determined by the Supreme Court as necessary to the overall preservation of the law.[14] For one, the court ruled to limit the federal government's authority to require states to participate in the coming Medicaid expansion. Second, the individual mandate failed to stand up to constitutional vetting vis a vis the Commerce Clause, and therefore would survive in the form of a tax. The latter proviso struck at the heart of the lawsuit, and guided Bondi's official statement on the ruling. “All of us who are disappointed with the ultimate outcome today cannot lose sight of what we accomplished. We fought for the principle that the Constitution limits Congress’s power to direct the lives of our people, and on that point, we won," she said.[15]

About two years earlier, the morning after the United States House of Representatives narrowly passed the Senate reconciliation bill, Bill McCollum, the Republican Attorney General of Florida at the time, announced that he would be joining with South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster and ten other state attorneys general in challenging the "unconstitutional" health care legislation on the grounds that the measure "clearly violates the U.S. Constitution and infringes on each state's sovereignty."[16] The next day, President Barack Obama signed into law the controversial House Resolution 3590 - The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Continuing to pursue legal action against the federal mandate was a central tenant of Bondi's 2010 State Attorney General campaign.[17] Two weeks after clinching the statewide position in the general election, the former prosecutor brought McCollum aboard as a chair of her transitional team.[18]

The lawsuit gained significant traction in late 2010 when Federal Judge Clyde Roger Vinson, who had expressed skepticism over the states' argument "that the law forces states into a costly expansion of their Medicaid insurance programs for the poor," nonetheless agreed with the plaintiffs' claim that the mandate forcing all American citizens to purchase health insurance violates the Constitution.[19] Vinson remarked that "the individual mandate [would be] “a great leap” on the notion of economic activity that falls within the Commerce Clause’s parameters" should the Supreme Court adopt that as a constitutional basis for the law.[20] Six weeks to the date after he delivered his initial assessment of the case, Judge Vinson handed down his final ruling, striking down not only the "individual mandate," but the federal health care reform law as a whole.[21]

Presidential preference

2012

See also: Endorsements by state officials of presidential candidates in the 2012 election

Pam Bondi endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. [22]

Issues

Medical marijuana

In January 2014, the Florida State Supreme Court allowed a proposed constitutional amendment that would approve the medicinal use of marijuana to be placed on the ballot for Florida voters to approve or reject. If approved by 60% of the state’s voters, doctors would be permitted to prescribe marijuana for patients with "certain medical conditions" and/or "debilitating diseases." The measure was challenged by Bondi as too lenient, arguing that the initiative could "authorize marijuana for anything, any time, to anyone, of any age." According to a Quinnipiac poll, Florida residents supported the use of marijuana by adults for medical reasons, 82% to 16%. A state financial impact study also concluded that nearly 450,000 Florida residents could qualify for medical marijuana.[23]

Trey Radel arrested for cocaine possession

See also: Trey Radel

Florida's 19th Congressional District Rep. Trey Radel (R) was arrested in the District of Columbia on October 29, 2013, for possession of cocaine. He was officially charged on November 19, 2013, in D.C. Superior Court with misdemeanor possession of cocaine.[24][25] On Wednesday, November 20, 2013, Radel plead guilty to possession of cocaine. He was sentenced to one year of supervised probation.[24][26][27]

"As a career prosecutor, I understand the devastating effects that addiction can have on one’s life," Bondi said on November 27, 2013. "While I understand that this is a challenging time for Trey and his family, I believe that he should resign."[28]

Elections

2014

See also: Florida attorney general election, 2014

Bondi ran for re-election as Florida Attorney General in 2014.[1] She was uncontested for the Republican nomination in the August 26 primary. Bondi faced Democrat George Sheldon and Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer in the general election. Pam Bondi won the general election on November 4, 2014.

Results

Attorney General of Florida, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngPam Bondi Incumbent 55.1% 3,222,524
     Democratic George Sheldon 42% 2,457,317
     Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer 2.9% 169,394
Total Votes 5,849,235
Election Results via Florida Division of Elections.

Debates

Debate media

October 6 debate
October 6 debate

Pam Bondi (R), George Sheldon (D) and Bill Wohlsifer (L) discussed their positions on medical marijuana and same-sex marriage and during a debate hosted by Tampa Bay News 9. A question about Amendment 2, a ballot measure that would allow medical marijuana in the state, divided the candidates into different camps. Bondi opposes Amendment 2 due to concerns about the legitimacy of medical marijuana prescriptions given recent action by the state against doctors providing unnecessary prescriptions through "pill mills." Sheldon criticized detractors like Bondi for drumming up hysterical criticisms of Amendment 2, while Wohlsifer argued that the measure should provide greater freedom for marijuana use.[29]

The debate brought up the United States Supreme Court decision to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Bondi did not provide a clear stance on same-sex marriage, stating that her office had only received the court decision hours before the debate. Sheldon argued that Bondi should not defend the state's ban, saying that the government should "get out of the business of telling people who they can love."[29]

Polls

Governor of Florida Hypothetical Match-Up Poll
Poll Pam Bondi* (R) George Sheldon (D)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Poll
January 16-21, 2014
37%34%29%+/-6.3591
Gravis Marketing
April 23-25, 2014
45%38%11%+/-3.0907
AVERAGES 41% 36% 20% +/-4.65 749
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

2010

See also: Florida Attorney General election, 2010
  • General Election
  • Bondi won the General Election on November 2, 2010 with 54.8% of the vote.
Attorney General of Florida, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngPam Bondi 54.8% 2,882,868
     Democratic Dan Gelber 41.4% 2,181,377
     Nonpartisan Jim Lewis 3.8% 199,147
Total Votes 5,263,392
Election Results via Florida Department of State
  • Primary Election
  • Bondi defeated Joff Kottkamp and Holly Benson to secure the Republican primary nomination on August 24, 2010 with 37.9% of the vote.
Attorney General of Florida, 2010
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngPam Bondi 38% 459,022
Jeff Kottkamp 32.9% 397,781
Holly Benson 29.2% 352,573
Total Votes 1,209,376
Election Results via Florida Department of State.

Lifestyle criticism

John Stemberger, president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC), who had earlier in 2010 endorsed Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp in the Republican primary campaign for state attorney general, took a shot at Pam Bondi's style of living in his August 2010 endorsement letter.[30][31] He questioned Bondi's credentials as a conservative noting that "personally, she has no children and lives with her 60 year old eye doctor boyfriend."[32]

Speaking with The Miami Herald in response to criticism over the letter, Stemberger insisted that he was not suggesting anything in regards to the Republican prosecutor's sex life. He argued that "marital status, children, living arrangements are all matters that tell us something about a person and their life experience. And therefore are relevant."[31]

Labor issue comment

After an appearance on a weekend call-in radio program for WDBO in Orlando, Bondi drew criticism, in particular from her Republican primary opponent, Jeff Kottkamp, for her response to a question related to a key aspect of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). The EFCA was a legislative bill being considered within Congress at the time and was heavily backed by both the major unions in the country and the Obama White House. Bondi remarked that "she was opposed to the secret ballot in votes on unionization," an opinion also held by supporters of the measure.[33]

Bondi, in response to the controversy, contended that "it was difficult to hear the question, and I confused the terms in discussing my opposition to card check."[34] She insisted that she does not support the labor-backed card check program. Kottkamp's campaign, however, did not buy her excuse and claimed this was just another example of Bondi showcasing her Democratic political roots.

Campaign contributions

Comprehensive donor information for Bondi is available dating back to 2010. Based on available campaign finance records, Bondi raised a total of $2,583,702 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 8, 2013.[35]

Pam Bondi's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Attorney General of Florida Not up for election $0
2010 Attorney General of Florida Won $2,583,702
Grand Total Raised $2,583,702

2010

Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Pam Bondi's donors each year.[36] Click [show] for more information.


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Contact Information

Capitol Address:
Office of Attorney General
State of Florida
The Capitol PL-01
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050

Florida

Phone: (850) 414-3300
Toll Free Phone: (866) 966-7226
Fax: (850) 410-1630

See also

External links

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Tampa Bay Times, AG Pam Bondi files for re-election, July 1, 2013
  2. Florida Attorney General's office, "Attorney General Pam Bondi," accessed September 13, 2012
  3. Office of the Florida Attorney General, "Bio of Pam Bondi," accessed September 6, 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Tallahassee.com, "Bondi has front row seat as historic case is heard," March 27, 2012
  5. My Florida Legal, "About the AG," accessed March 27, 2012
  6. Tampa Bay Times, "Gov. Rick Scott's new version of FDLE ouster called 'absolutely untrue' by Gerald Bailey," February 2, 2015
  7. Miami Herald, "Meet Melissa Sellers, the power behind Gov. Rick Scott," February 7, 2015
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Tampa Bay Times, "Cabinet members step up attacks on Gov. Rick Scott over FDLE firing," January 28, 2015
  9. Miami Herald, "Cabinet members kept in dark on public discussions by their own aides," February 16, 2015
  10. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Miami Herald, "Lawsuits alleges Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Cabinet violated Sunshine Law," February 4, 2015
  12. My Florida Legal, "About the AG," accessed March 27, 2012
  13. The Miami New Times, "Obamacare Ruled Constitutional by Supreme Court; Sorry, Pam Bondi," June 28, 2012
  14. The National Law Journal, "Health care ruling: the professional judgments," July 2, 2012
  15. My Florida Legal-Office of the Attorney General, "Attorney General Pam Bondi's Statement on the Supreme Court's Decision in the Healthcare Lawsuit," June 28, 2012
  16. ABC Action News, "McCollum to file lawsuit against health care bill" 22 March, 2010
  17. The Ledger, "Attorney General Candidate Pam Bondi Pans Healthcare Law at Hospital Meeting" 16 Sept. 2010
  18. The Palm Beach Post, "AG-elect Bondi taps bipartisan AG primary losers for transition team" 17 Nov. 2010
  19. Wall Street Journal, "Judge Leery of Health Mandate" 17 Dec. 2010
  20. Hot Air, "Judge in 20-state ObamaCare case expresses skepticism over mandate" 17 Dec. 2010
  21. Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services (2011)
  22. My FOX Tampa Bay, "Mitt Romney picks up key Florida endorsement from Pam Bondi," January 9, 2012
  23. WatchDog.org, "To weed or not to weed: Florida voters to decide medical marijuana," accessed February 6, 2014
  24. 24.0 24.1 Politico, "Rep. Trey Radel charged with cocaine possession," accessed November 19, 2013
  25. Heavy.com, "BREAKING: Florida Rep. Trey Radel Charged With Cocaine Possession," accessed November 19, 2013
  26. Huffington Post, "Trey Radel Arrested In October For Possession Of Cocaine," accessed November 19, 2013
  27. Politico, "Trey Radel pleads guilty to cocaine possession," November 20, 2013
  28. WPRO, "Florida AG Is Latest Republican Calling for Radel’s Resignation," accessed November 27, 2013 (dead link)
  29. 29.0 29.1 Tampa Bay Times, "Florida attorney general candidates spar in lone debate," October 6, 2014
  30. St. Petersburg Times, "John Stemberger endorses Jeff Kottkamp" 29 June, 2010
  31. 31.0 31.1 The Miami Herald, "John Stemberger raises questions about Pam Bondi's sex life" 7 Aug. 2010
  32. The Florida Times-Union, "Stemberger: Unmarried, childless Pam Bondi is suspect as conservative" 8 Aug. 2010
  33. Pam Bondi's remarks on WDBO in Orlando
  34. Sunshine State News, "Jeff Kottkamp Team Attacks Pam Bondi for Breaking With Conservatives on Labor Issue" 16 Aug. 2010
  35. Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for Pam Bondi," accessed July 8, 2013
  36. Follow the Money.org, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015


Political offices
Preceded by
Bill McCollum (R)
Florida Attorney General
2010–present
Succeeded by
NA