A lawsuit against Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi alleges she abused her authority when she forced 14 businesses her office was investigating to settle by donating money to unregistered charities. Now a Tallahassee judge is demanding Bondi prove her office wasn't acting inappropriately.
According to the Orlando Weekly, John D. Smith, who owns a company named Storm Stoppers, alleges in his suit that Bondi was investigating the 14 businesses for unfair trade practices, but if they donated to 35 unregistered charities the investigations would be settled.
Bondi's office allegedly scored $20.5 million from 55 companies in what Smith said is "forced contributions" to charities including her own for Florida Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Her charity was given four contributions of $40,000 in total by the businesses, the suit claims.
Smith has also claimed Bondi was directing contributions to Seniors vs. Crime, a non-profit organization within the Attorney General's office. He said that the request is a “conflict of interest” as two of the directors work for Bondi.
Bondi is accusing Smith of bullying her and her office with his accusations.
"For two years, my attorneys have been dealing with harassment from the petitioner in this case for looking into his 'business' of selling hurricane-resistant plastic panels that Velcro to windows," she said in a statement after the lawsuit was filed in April. "Throughout that process, Mr. Smith has heaped abuse on my attorneys and continues to target my office. His attacks are completely unfounded. What my attorneys are doing is designed to benefit Florida’s citizens while conserving taxpayer resources. "
Bondi has a few weeks left to respond to the court's demand.