Pam Bondi

Bondi: ‘I would have gone in’ without a gun

Attorney General Pam Bondi claimed she would have entered the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — even without a gun — during the Feb. 14 school shooting that left 17 people dead.

Bondi’s comments Monday come as investigations into the actions of first responders. A Broward County deputy, Scot Peterson, who was the school’s resource officer resigned after it was revealed that he remained inside his car as the slaughter went down.

“Let me put it this way, when you have a school full of students, and your duty is to protect those students, even if I didn’t have a firearm I would have gone into that scene. That’s what you do. That’s what the coach did who was a true hero,” Bondi said during an appearance Monday on FOX News show Fox & Friends.

Bondi also said that not everyone has been honest about the response from the Broward Sheriff’s office, but she did not elaborate.

“It’s all going to come out in the investigation,” Bondi said.

Gov. Rick Scott has directed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to review the events leading up to 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz’s killing spree as well as law enforcement’s response on the day 14 students and three faculty members were killed.

The Florida House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee is set to discuss an investigation into local agency actions relating to the shooting later today.

Bondi favored Scott’s approach over demands that Broward Sheriff Scott Israel resign from politicians like House Speaker Richard Corcoran and most of House Republican caucus.

In addition to Peterson, three other deputies remained outside of the school during the mass shooting, according to media reports.

Bondi suggested that statements she’s received from some at the sheriff’s office “weren’t honest with me, nor were they honest with the governor.”

By Jim Turner.

Talking heads on Florida school shooting

IMG_0075Response to last week’s massacre of 17 people at a Parkland high school last week dominated the Sunday morning news shows.

While speaking on New York City’s AM 970, Attorney General Pam Bondi urged individuals to report online threats and comments. The FBI admitted it failed to follow up on at least one report that 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz posed a danger.

“If all our kids are on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and if your child sees something, they have to take it seriously,” Bondi said. “I’d rather you call it in as a parent or as a child and be wrong 100 percent of the time than not call it in.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican from Miami, and Ted Deutch, a Democrat whose district includes Parkland, spoke of the need to address gun-safety laws while on ABC’s “This Week.”

“What we need is congressional leaders, specifically in my party, to allow some of these bills to come to the floor for debate,” Curbelo said.

Deutch said lawmakers need to listen to the students that survived the shooting, who have told him they want action.

“The difference this time is that these kids — you’ve spoken to them — the world has heard them, they’re just not going to sit back after what they experienced, after what they saw, the worst things imaginable, they’re not going to just sit back and take it,” Deutch said.

Outspoken survivors of the rampage at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School — the second worst school shooting in the nation’s history — have drawn international attention in their demands for lawmakers to do something about gun laws to prevent future tragedies like the one that took the lives of 14 of their classmates.

About 100 students are scheduled to take buses to Tallahassee Tuesday night, meet with state lawmakers on the following day and hold a rally on the steps of the Old Capitol at noon Wednesday.

“They’re going to stand up for their lives, that’s what this is about, and all of the excuses that are normally given about not getting things done and the difficulty of fighting outside groups and the gun lobby,” Deutch said. “None of that is as powerful as these students.”

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” David Hogg, a student at the Parkland high school, said he won’t feel safe returning to class, calling out Congress to make “reasonable change” to the nation’s gun laws.

“How many more students are going to have to die and have their blood spilt in American classrooms trying to make the world a better place just because politicians refuse to take action?” Hogg said.

Appearing on the same program as Hogg, Broward County School District Superintendent Robert Runcie said he’d support the use of student records as part of background checks.

“Given what I’ve seen so far, I believe that we need a smarter system,” Runcie said. “We need a smarter infrastructure where various agencies, departments, school systems, they’re working in a more integrated, collaborative fashion to ensure that we can share data, we can share information to enhance our level of effectiveness.”

 Cruz, who has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the Parkland shooting, had been kicked out of school. The FBI has acknowledged a failure to follow protocols on a tip received about Cruz, while the Broward County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation into numerous calls it had received the past few years about Cruz.

Gov. Rick Scott has demanded FBI Director Christopher Wray resign.

Rush Limbaugh, a conservative radio host from Palm Beach, appeared on Fox News Sunday, where he called for the expansion of concealed-carry laws to allow people with permits to be armed in schools.

“If we are really serious about protecting the kids, we need a mechanism to be defensive when this kind of thing — if we’re not going to take action, we better have mechanisms in these schools to stop it when it breaks out,” Limbaugh said. “If we don’t do that, then all the rest of this is nothing more than political posturing for the 2018 midterms and the 2020 election.”

The state Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled Tuesday to hear a proposal (SB 1236) that would allow school principals or school superintendents designate people who could carry guns during school hours.

A separate measure (SB 1048), expected to go before the full state Senate on Wednesday, would alter the law that prohibits people with a concealed-carry permit from carrying at a religious facility on property that also includes a school. Currently, individuals with a permit are allowed to carry at churches and other religious institutions on property that doesn’t have accompanying education facilities.

By Jim Turner.

Yes, he did! Patronis slides into Cabinet tradition (with pic)

DViJcFUVoAAjAV4Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis took Attorney General Pam Bondi up on her “double dog dare” about going down the Big Slide on the opening day of the Florida State Fair.

While Patronis appears to have left his potato sack behind, Gov. Rick Scott seems to have once again avoided rollicking good time.

“The Florida State Fair slide is one of the best parts of my official duties,” Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam tweeted following today’s Cabinet meeting in Tampa.

On Wednesday, Bondi teased Patronis — who attended his first fair as a Cabinet member Thursday — about the annual trip down the slide.

Patronis poked back, with a reference to doggie-loving Bondi’s adoption recruitment efforts.

 — By Jim Turner.

Will he or won’t he? Patronis and the Cabinet slide

Commissioner-Slide_bannerThere is a high probability Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis won’t miss the chance for a wacky good time with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Attorney General Pam Bondi if they go on the Giant Slide on Thursday.

This will be Patronis’ first appearance as a member of the Cabinet when the state officials hold a largely ceremonial meeting in Tampa timed with the kick-off of the  Florida State Fair.

Typically, members of the Cabinet take to the slide if the weather is good. Putnam has done the slide in his cowboy boots, while Bondi has kept her heels on, and Gov. Rick Scott isn’t known for partaking in the plunge. No news yet on what kicks Patronis might sport, if he joins in the fun.

A “flip the switch” event kicks off the fair at 6:15 a.m., then Putnam — a Republican who’s running for governor — will host a “Fresh From Florida” breakfast prior to an agenda-lite Cabinet meeting in the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center Pavilion, which starts at 9 a.m.

By Jim Turner.

AG candidates lassoed for Federalist’s Disney confab

Four candidates for attorney general are expected to appear together at a Federalist Society powwow near Orlando next month.

Democrat Ryan Torrens  and Republican Rep. Jay Fant of Jacksonville, Rep. Frank White of Pensacola and former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody have agreed to participate in a panel discussion on Feb. 3 as part of the annual Federalist Society Florida Chapters Conference at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Report in Lake Buena Vista, according to an announcement released Wednesday.

State Reps. Ross Spano, a Republican from Dover, and Sean Shaw, a Democrat from Tampa, have also invited, but have yet to reply, the Society noted on Wednesday.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the Cabinet post last year and seeking re-election to the job, will appear at the conference on Feb. 2.

Two officials from President Donald Trump’s administration — EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta — and Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi are also slated to appear.

By Jim Turner and Dara Kam.

Bondi: OJ’s “first wise decision in a long while”

Attorney General Pam Bondi offered a little backhanded compliment to O.J. Simpson, as the former guest of Lovelock Correctional Center has reportedly decided against relocating from Las Vegas to Florida.

“That is the first wise decision Orenthal has made in a long while,” Bondi said, referencing Simpson’s first name in a statement on Friday.

 A day earlier the AP reported that Simpson’s attorney Malcolm LaVergne said the former professional footballer and celebrity pitchman had “no immediate plans to return to Florida.”

Simpson had told Nevada parole officials he had planned to move to Florida once out of jail.

Released in October, Simpson, 70, spent nearly 10 years behind bars as part of a 33-year sentence for an armed robbery and kidnapping involving two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room.

In September, Bondi sought to stop Simpson from being able to relocate to Florida. Bondi later sought to see his prison records and to have additional conditions — an ankle bracelet to monitor his travel, a prohibition from alcohol and drugs and a requirement to report in person to his parole officer — placed on Simpson if he sought to travel into Florida.

“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 at the time. “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.

Bondi’s request resulted in a Twitter tirade from LaVergne, who advised Bondi that Simpson “can and will move to Florida.” LaVernge then added “None of your business.”

LaVergne also predicted that Bondi — who is currently not running for office and can’t seek reelection this year due to term limits — would “lose her seat next year.”

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.