Pam Bondi

Bondi’s “heart breaks” for Latvala accuser

Attorney General Pam Bondi issued a statement of strong support Friday for the woman who accused Sen. Jack Latvala of “unwanted physical touching/grabbing/groping” on six occasions over four years.

Latvala’s alleged sexual harassment is the subject of two separate investigations currently underway. Rachel Perrin Rogers, a top Senate staffer, came forward this week and identified herself as the woman who filed complaints with the Senate Rules Committee and Senate President Joe Negron’s office.

Without naming Rogers, Bondi said she was “astonished to learn that one of the victims of the recent allegations in Tallahassee is a woman who I’ve known and respected for years.”

“My heart breaks for her. We must respect the investigation by the Florida Senate and the privacy of all parties involved,” Bondi went on.

Latvala has vigorously denied the allegations, relying on more than 200 text message exchanges between the senator and Rogers that portray, at least on the surface, a cordial if not friendly relationship.

Bondi’s statement isn’t the first time she’s weighed in on the allegations against Latvala.

Last month, she called on the unnamed women in the POLITCO Florida report, which first revealed the sexual harassment accusations against the Clearwater Republican, to identify themselves.

“As a career prosecutor, I would say that you have to come forward. Someone has the right to face their accuser. It can’t be done under the condition of anonymity. So, you have to come forward. As a woman, I’d say please come forward,” she told reporters on Nov. 7.

On Friday, Bondi said she reached out to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate Rules Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto to hold a spot for “legislation that could provide protections to victims of sexual harassment claims.”

“I encourage any woman who has been sexually harassed to come forward and allow their voice to be heard,” Bondi said in the statement.

“I look forward to working with the legislature this session to formulate laws that protect all women working in state government. It has been remarkable what women can do when we all stand together. FLORIDA MUST BE A LEADER IN THIS MOVEMENT,” she concluded.

 

 

White nationalist speech at UF: Should I stay or should I go?

Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and University of Florida President Kent Fuchs are urging students, faculty and others to shun firebrand white nationalist Richard Spencer, who’s speaking at the college tomorrow.

But Florida Democrats issued a press release this morning saying they support peaceful protestors and it’s incumbent on those who disagree with Spencer to speak out.

“The Florida Democratic Party reiterates its support for all peaceful protesters who are standing up and speaking out,” Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel said in the release. “We have a moral obligation to refute hate and bigotry whenever they present themselves. White supremacy is an evil we cannot ignore. When leaders like our governor fail to challenge the President for embracing white supremacists, it becomes all the more urgent that the rest of us speak out—clearly, unequivocally, and loudly. We must let it be known that we reject hatred in all its forms.”
Responding to a request by Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, Scott on Monday declared a state of emergency for the county. The executive order allows for coordination between state and local law enforcement agencies. Darnell said her request wasn’t based on any heightened security risks, but was a preventative measure.

Speaking to reporters after a Cabinet meeting this morning, Bondi said she was praying “nothing happens” and urged students not to go to the event, while saying “there is no place for espousing these horrible, horrible views.”

Bondi said law enforcement will be well-prepared.

But, she added, “There is just no place right now for this, but you know with free speech, if he’s going to get up there and do it, then he’s going to do it. But we are going to make sure that our students and our citizens are protected.”

Spencer, the head of the National Policy Institute, was among the speakers at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., that turned deadly when a car plowed into a group of counter-protestors. Heather Heyer was killed and dozens of others were injured.
Clashes between Spencer supporters, some of whom are white supremacists and others who back his white separatist ideology, and “Antifa,” or anti-fascist, groups have taken place on other campuses where Spencer has spoken.

Alt-right speech in Hogtown: “It’s just words”

Tension continues to build in advance of alt-right activist Richard Spencer’s appearance at the University of Florida Thursday,.

Speaking to reporters after a Cabinet meeting this morning, Attorney General Pam Bondi said “there is no place for espousing these horrible, horrible views.”

Yesterday, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Alachua County. County Sheriff Sadie Darnell said she requested the emergency declaration so she could make sure she had the necessary resources, just in case.

Spencer was one of the key organizers of an August “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., that turned deadly when a car plowed into a group of counter-protestors. Heather Heyer, 31, was killed, and dozens were injured.

Appearances by Spencer in other college towns also sparked melees, causing concern by state and local officials who fear similar clashes in Hogtown.

Bondi defended Scott’s emergency declaration when asked if it might worsen an already tense situation.

“This guy’s out there espousing violence and hatred and anger and if we know that he’s going to be doing that, it’s our duty as a state … to have the resources available up front,” she said.

Spencer supporters point the finger at counter-protestors, who’ve pledged to show up en masse on Thursday, as the reason for the precautions.

Cameron Padgett, a Georgia State University student who helped organize Spencer’s speech in Gainesville, posted a video on Twitter yesterday, with an update about how to get tickets for the event at UF’s Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

The center was originally supposed to distribute the tickets for the 2:30 speech, Padgett said.

But organizers quashed that after learning that tickets could have been turned in for free drinks, or even money, Padgett said in the video.

“It almost seems to me that people don’t want to hear Richard Spencer speak. You know, they’re just words. We’re not even there yet, in Gainesville, at all and they’re already enacting a state of emergency based on protestors already there,” Padgett said. “What’s the state of emergency being enacted on? It’s the protestors that are there at the event, or at the venue right now. So we’re there to peacefully show up and speak, you know, words only, and if you want to debate and engage in a conversation, then I welcome everybody to be there. I think it will be a good event. I have full faith in the police to do whatever they need to do to make sure that the speech is delivered properly and safely.”

Bondi v. O.J., part II

After insisting the Sunshine State is off-limits to the famous footballer, Attorney General Pam Bondi said yesterday she wants new conditions placed on O.J. Simpson if he intends to travel to Florida now that he’s on parole in Nevada.

The AG also wants a peek at O.J.’s prison records, she told reporters before heading to Las Vegas to support her Nevada counterpart, Adam Laxalt, after the horrific mass shooting that left 59 individuals dead and hundreds wounded.

Florida will craft its own set of rules if the former football great and less than that actor requests travel to the Sunshine State, Bondi said, with a caveat.

“If he was a perfect inmate,” Bondi said. “If he’s going to come to our state, we will be sure there are added conditions on him.”

On Friday, Bondi issued a press release and three-page letter to Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones objecting to Simpson’s relocation to the Sunshine State. Bondi told Jones that the state objected to Nevada granting Simpson permission to travel to Florida while on parole.

But, if he does come to Florida — where his children live — Bondi suggested in the letter that Simpson wear an ankle bracelet so his travels can be monitored, something that is not a condition of his parole in Nevada. She also suggested that Simpson’s Florida travels be limited, he be prohibited from alcohol and drugs and report in person to his parole officer, not by mail.

Bondi’s letter preceded the 70-year-old Simpson’s release early Sunday from the Lovelock Correction Center after serving nearly 10 years of a 33-year sentence for an armed robbery and kidnapping involving two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room.

No request has been made by Nevada regarding Simpson being able to cross state lines.

Bondi’s objections to Simpson’s relocation to Florida drew a harsh tweet storm from his lawyer over the weekend.

Attorney Malcolm LaVergne advised Bondi — whom he repeatedly labeled as “stupid” — via Twitter that Simpson “can and will move to Florida.” LaVernge then added “None of your business.”

Asked about barrage of criticisms from Lavergne, Bondi claimed Simpson and his counsel were “completely dismissive and flat out deceitful” during the hearing before the parole commission.

“Everyone I have seen has been extremely remorseful. And not in this case,” Bondi said. “As chief legal officer and law enforcement officer of Florida, it’s my job to protect the citizens of this state. And that is what I intend to do.”

By Jim Turner and Dara Kam.

O.J. Simpson attorney fires back at Bondi

An attorney for O.J. Simpson went on a Twitter tirade over the weekend after Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Florida didn’t want the fallen football great.

Attorney Malcolm LaVergne advised Bondi via Twitter that Simpson “can and will move to Florida.” LaVernge then added “None of your business.”

LaVergne also predicted that Bondi would “lose her seat next year.”

It’s true that Bondi won’t be returning to the Florida Cabinet as attorney general next year. But that’s won’t have anything to do with where she thinks Simpson should live. Bondi can’t run for re-election, due to the state’s constitutional term limits.

“Florida AG had 70 days to comment on Simpson move,” LaVergne tweeted. “Realized opportunity to score political points. Will lose her seat next year.”

Simpson, 70, was released early Sunday from the Lovelock Correction Center after serving nearly 10 years of a 33-year sentence for an armed robbery and kidnapping involving two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room.

LaVergne’s tweet storm came after Bondi on Friday issued a press release and three-page letter to Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones objecting to Simpson’s relocation to the Sunshine State. Bondi told Jones that the state objected to Nevada granting Simpson permission to travel to Florida while on parole.

Simpson, who has children living in Florida, had a home in Miami that was foreclosed on in 2012. Tom Scotto, a friend of Simpson’s who lives in Naples and was referenced in Bondi’s letter to Jones, also has offered to house Simpson.

“Floridians are well aware of Mr. Simpson’s background, his wanton disregard for the lives of others, and of his scofflaw attitude with respect to the heinous acts for which he has been found civilly liable,” Bondi wrote. “The specter of his residing in Florida should not be an option. Numerous law enforcement officials in Florida agree with this position. Our state should not become a country club for this convicted criminal.”

Bondi also referenced allegations that Simpson killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

“Additionally, it bears noting that Mr. Simpson has a disturbing history of arrests and destructive behavior, dating back in California to spousal battery charges in 1989, to which he pled ‘no contest,’ prior to causing the gruesome deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in 1994,” Bondi wrote Jones.

That didn’t sit well with LaVergne, who’s @SinCityAttorney on Twitter.

“Florida AG had 70 days to comment on Simpson move,” LaVergne tweeted. “Realized opportunity to score political points. Will lose her seat next year.”

LaVergne also brought up a $25,000 donation Trump made to Bondi’s political committee, questioning whether that influenced her office to dismiss allegations that Floridians had been bilked by Trump University. Bondi has adamantly denied a connection between the contribution and her office’s handling of the Trump University issue.

Sunday morning, LaVergne took to Twitter again: “Saw interview on FoxNews. Complimented Simpson kids! Rest just good politics for her. Fair enough. Still will lose next year. M.”

By Jim Turner.

Bondi headlines Iowa LEO fundraiser

Attorney General Pam Bondi will be the headliner at a November law enforcement fundraiser in Iowa.

The day after a Nov. 7 Florida Cabinet meeting, Bondi is slated to be the keynote speaker at the annual state Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner and Children’s Charity Fundraiser in Sioux Falls.

About 2,000 are expected to attend the 36th version of the dinner that draws a local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement crowd.

“Through her leadership, Florida has done some amazing things to crack down on crime and protect the citizens of her state, and we are anxious to meet her and learn about her innovative ideas,” event Co-Chair Scott Abdallah was quoted in the Argus Leader.

Retired 4-Star General and former CIA Director David H. Petraeus was the headliner for last year’s dinner.

— By Jim Turner.

Bondi, other AGs target drug industry in opioid probe

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and other attorneys general are targeting drug manufacturers and distributors as well as the insurance industry, in an effort to address the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the country, with 52,404 fatal overdoses reported in 2015, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Opioid addiction drove the epidemic with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers and 12,990 deaths related to heroin.

Florida, where overdose deaths have spiked over the past two years, is one of the epicenters of the opioid crisis, fueled in part by the widespread use of fentanyl, a deadly painkiller sometimes mixed with heroin.

Bondi and a group of attorneys general are demanding documents and information from pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors related to their opioid business.

The information requests are part of an effort by 41 states to crack down on the opioid crisis.

Bondi, who was appointed by President Donald Trump to serve on the White House’s Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission, has made prescription drug abuse one of her top priorities since she took office in 2011.

“Florida citizens continue to become addicted to opioids and die daily—meanwhile, prescription drug manufacturers, distributors and the medical profession all point fingers at each other as the cause of this national crisis,” Bondi said in a press release issued Tuesday. “This far-reaching multistate investigation is designed to get the answers we need as quickly as possible. The industry must do the right thing. If they do not, we are prepared to litigate.”

On Monday, Bondi joined a separate group of attorneys general who want insurers to make it easier for patients to receive alternative pain management treatments.