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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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Bondi receives cash from notable names

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has reported 1,100 contributions for her 2014 re-election campaign, about 50 of them from out of state, according to state campaign finance records.

They include some big names in entertainment and media.

Among them are Philadelphia-based cable television giant and NBC Universal owner Comcast Corp., California-based Internet search engine and Web portal Yahoo Inc., and father and daughter real-estate moguls Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump of New York.

They all gave the $500 maximum, though a law passed this year raises limits effective Nov.  1 to $3,000 for statewide offices and $1,000 for local and legislative positions.

Even West Coast media executive Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III chipped in $500.

He's the son of Efrem Zimbalist Jr., perhaps best known for his starring role in the TV series “The FBI,” which ran from 1965 to 1974. His half-sister, Stephanie Zimbalist, starred in the NBC detective series “Remington Steele” in the 1980s.

The 47-year-old Bondi, who calls Tampa home and is a former Hillsborough County prosecutor, has generated nearly $625,000 in direct and in-kind donations.

She now commands a daunting money advantage over Democrat George Sheldon, the only declared opponent in the race.

Sheldon, 66, is a former state Department of Children & Families secretary and more recently was an acting assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Bondi also has about $805,000 in a separate political communications fund, $500,000 of which came from the Republican State Leadership Committee, which helps conservative GOP candidates get into state office.

“As a fourth-generation Floridian, Pam Bondi is humbled by the tremendous support she has received from the people in Florida,” said Pablo Diaz, Bondi's campaign manager, in a statement to the Tribune.

She “believes that their commitment to the campaign shows clear support of her efforts to make our state a better and safer place to live and work,” he said.

Representatives with Comcast, the nation's largest operator of cable TV services, did not respond to a request for comment. But the corporation this year also has given to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, several Republican legislators and the state's Republican and Democratic parties, online records show.

Yahoo representatives also did not respond, but it too contributed to Putnam, some lawmakers and the Republican Party of Florida. Yahoo, however, has given only to Republicans, and far less — a reported total of $13,500 compared to Comcast's roughly $205,000.

Trump raised hackles when his Donald J. Trump Foundation also gave $25,000 to Bondi's other fund, known as an electioneering communications organization, called “And Justice for All.”

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing Trump for $40 million, citing complaints in Florida, New York and elsewhere over what was formerly called “Trump University.”

Schneiderman alleges the program promised to make students rich from real estate deals but saddled them with pricey and ineffective seminars.

After other concerns that it couldn't legally call itself a university, the school was renamed the “Trump Entrepreneur Initiative” in 2011.

Trump's attorneys have denied the claims and because the New York case seeks relief for all former students, Bondi has not joined the lawsuit.

Zimbalist is chairman and CEO of Active Interest Media, which describes itself as a “media company formed in 2003 to serve niche enthusiast markets.”

Its subsidiary, Show Management, produces yacht shows in Florida, including the St. Petersburg Boat Show and the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

Other companies with business concerns in Florida also contributed, records show. Among those, Cash America gave $500. It advertises itself as the largest pawnshop chain in the world. The chain, based in Fort Worth, Texas, has more than 70 stores in Florida.

In his statement, Diaz did not address why individual contributors might have given to Bondi but said she “has been a leader on many issues that are important to people within and beyond the borders of Florida.”

He mentioned her initiatives to make Florida a zero-tolerance state on human trafficking, shutting down illegal pill mills, and joining multi-state efforts to pursue relief for those affected by Medicaid fraud, mortgage fraud and the BP oil spill.

In addition to her campaign and electioneering communications organization, Division of Elections records show an affiliated political committee formed in August called “Justice for All.”

It shares the same address, treasurer and chairperson as Bondi's electioneering communications organization, is listed as “active,” but has reported raising no money yet.

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