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Pam Bondi decided not to sue Trump University — and got a $25,000 donation from Trump

Pam Bondi
Pam Bondi speaks at the RNC in 2012.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

CLEVELAND — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who is speaking tonight at the Republican National Convention, has one major connection to Donald Trump: She could have sued him over the Trump University scam — but chose not to under controversial circumstances.

In 2013, according to the Associated Press, Bondi announced that she was considering joining a lawsuit that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was filing against Trump University.

Then, four days later, a $25,000 check from Trump to Bondi’s reelection campaign showed up. Bondi ended up not suing Trump after all, even though she had plenty of reason to do so. Florida had received complaints about Trump’s series of real estate seminars, and a class-action lawsuit on behalf of students in the state is currently in progress in federal court in New York.

It’s not the only time that Trump has donated to prosecutors who declined to prosecute him. In 2010, Texas's then–Attorney General Greg Abbott declined to pursue a potential $5.4 million lawsuit against Trump University that the state’s consumer protection division had put together. Three years later, when Abbott was running for governor, Trump donated $35,000. (Abbott won.)

Meanwhile, when Schneiderman filed New York’s lawsuit over Trump University, Trump initially said that Schneiderman was seeking campaign donations from him and his daughter Ivanka while the complaint was pending — implying that Schneiderman wanted Trump to donate to him in order to get him to drop the case. (An ethics panel didn’t substantiate the complaint, and Schneiderman lost a lawsuit against Trump.)

Further reading: "It was a façade, a total lie": new documents reveal how Trump University’s scam worked