Pam Bondi’s Concerns About Corruption in Ukraine Are Very Hypocritical

A scandal scarred lawmaker-turned-lobbyist-turned-Trump-lawyer has views on Joe Biden.

Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general and lobbyist who is part of President Trump’s impeachment defense team, on Thursday repeatedly used the word “corrupt” to describe Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine and to justify Trump’s pressure campaign on the country. Bondi is an incredibly bad messenger for this argument.

In the summer of 2013, while running for reelection as attorney general, Bondi’s campaign solicited a donation from Trump. The Donald J. Trump Foundation then gave $25,000 to Bondi. At the time, Bondi’s office said it was considering joining a multi-state lawsuit accusing Trump of fraud over Trump University’s marketing of its seminars on real estate and management. A month later, Bondi announced that Florida would not join the suit. A Florida state prosecutor later said there was no evidence that the donation was an illegal effort to influence Bondi’s action on the case. But the case has dogged her, in part thanks to Trump: As a presidential candidate, he bragged that his big campaign donations made lawmakers “do whatever the hell [I] want them to do.”

Bondi also appears to be linked to Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and a key figure in the Ukraine scandal. In an April 2018 meeting with Trump, which Parnas and Fruman reportedly secured by pledging to contribute $1 million to a super PAC backing Trump, Parnas, a Florida resident, mentioned to the president that he had recently had lunch with Bondi, then still serving as Florida’s top law enforcement officer. He did not say what the meeting was about. Several pictures, some released by Parnas’ lawyer, show Parnas and Bondi together. 

Bondi has dismissed these images, saying Parnas “liked to take pictures with a lot of people” and “showed up at events pretty much everywhere where Republicans were.” This overlooks the fact that Parnas, who was indicted by federal prosecutors in New York in October for campaign finance violations that include using foreign funds to try to influence US lawmakers, gained access to senior Republican lawmakers by lavishing them with campaign donations.

After leaving office in 2019, Bondi joined Ballard Partners, a lobbying firm that touts its ties to Trump. Brian Ballard, the firm’s founder and a former lobbyist for Trump in Florida, launched the firm in 2017, capitalizing on Trump’s election. Starting last January, Bondi helped Ballard lobby the White House for clients including the Qatari government. She also lobbied for KGL Investment Co., a Kuwaiti company whose CEO Marsha Lazareva, a Russian citizen, was arrested by Kuwaiti officials for allegedly embezzling public funds. Lazareva’s representatives include Victoria Toensing, a right-wing pundit involved in Giuliani and Parnas’ machinations in Ukraine. 

To recap, Bondi traded her elected job, where she was accused of soliciting a campaign donations from Trump shortly before deciding against taking legal action against him, for a Washington gig lobbying the Trump administration for clients including an allegedly corrupt foreign executive. Now, with another turn of the revolving door, she is working for the White House, defending Trump against charges he pressured a foreign leader to help his 2020 campaign. That all may be legal, but it makes it little much for her to decry corruption elsewhere.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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