Five Questions With Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

April 1, 2013

Attorney General Pam Bondi is rarely out of the news. Her name was among those that surfaced amid speculation about Gov. Rick Scott’s next lieutenant governor after Jennifer Carroll resigned. She’s nationally known for Florida’s lead role in a 26-state lawsuit against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And she’s following a full slate of legislation, in some cases for the third year.

Bondi is a graduate of the University of Florida and Stetson Law School. She was a prosecutor in the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office for 18 years before running for attorney general in 2010. She’s known for her passionate advocacy, her fierce rhetoric and for working closely with law enforcement on such issues as synthetic drugs, pill mills and drug-addicted newborns.

Five questions for Pam Bondi:

Q: Florida received a record $8.4 billion in a mortgage settlement with the five largest servicers. Explain why you’re tracking what the Legislature does with it.

BONDI: That money is meant to go back to homeowners. That money is meant to go to people who are victims of robo-signing, of delays in their loan processing, of all kinds of misdoings by those top five servicers. And so an example is California. I think they may be the only state that received a larger settlement than Florida. And you know what happened with that money? Every penny of it, basically, was raided by the Legislature to go balance their budget deficit in California.

And that’s not what that settlement money was sent for. And I am so proud of our House and our Senate and our governor for committing to put the money where it’s meant to go. We’ve already allocated $60 (million) or $70 million through the (Legislative Budget Commission) to go out to help immediately, right away, with legal aid, counseling – not counseling in the traditional sense, but counselors in the industry to help people deal with their homes in the foreclosure crisis. And now there’s another $200 million going through the House and the Senate, through the appropriations process.

Q: You’ve been talking to legislative committees about human trafficking, urging them to crack down on perpetrators and help victims.

BONDI: Well, human trafficking is a $32 billion business. Twenty-seven million people worldwide are victims of trafficking, and in the United States alone, 2 ½ million people – it’s real. It’s so ugly that I think people don’t believe that it’s happening.

Kristi House in Miami, our state attorney in Miami, Kathy Fernandez Rundle, they’ve done a wonderful job of combatting it, but it’s all over our state. And so last session we fought to get some tougher penalties on human trafficking. My statewide prosecutors now have jurisdiction to join with the federal authorities, with the state attorneys, to take on these cases. And what struck me was, of the calls to the national human trafficking hotline, nationwide, Florida ranked third in the number of calls. So we’ve got to make Florida – and we are making Florida – a zero tolerance state for human trafficking.

A lot of it falls under domestic servitude, which is horrible. Many of these are 13- and 14-year-olds. Some are illegal aliens who’ve come here for refuge, and they’re being trafficked. And they’re scared, obviously, to report it, because they have nowhere to go. A lot of them are runaways, kids who’ve been bounced from foster home to foster home, and where do a lot of them want to go? Florida.

It affects everyone, and it’s a horrible, ugly, ugly business. Anybody who’s going to exploit our children needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Q: You’ve filed a petition to allow a medical examiner to exhume the bodies at the Dozier School for Boys. Do you have any idea when the judge will rule?

BONDI: No, we don’t, but we’re hoping sooner rather than later. I know (University of South Florida anthropologist) Dr. (Erin) Kimmerle wants to start her exhumations as soon as possible because of the rainy season coming up in a few months.

There’s so much that we don’t know. And my office – because we have a great relationship with the sheriff there, with the medical examiner, with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, with the families – everyone has a great relationship, but it’s just getting it all done and all working together. So my office has now come in, and we’re assisting the medical examiner, and we have requested an order to exhume these bodies. And so we’re waiting on a ruling on that order. Hopefully the judge will allow us to go through with this, because these families deserve answers. We don’t even know how many bodies are buried there. And these are kids.

Q: You’ve made synthetic drugs a top priority almost since taking office. Where are you with that now?

BONDI: A month after I came into office, Sheriff [Frank] McKeithen in the Panhandle wrote me a letter…I’d had no idea that this was a problem. And when it started in Florida, it was only in the Panhandle, because it had been outlawed by Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, and they moved to the Panhandle. And these are creative chemists, and they’re making these synthetic drugs that are killing our kids.

At that time I started calling law enforcement from central Florida down south. No one had heard of it. Many hadn’t had any problems with it at all. Look what’s happened in two years: It’s spiraled out of control. So the first session I signed an emergency order and outlawed six compounds. By the time it went through session, we had nine, then last session we outlawed approximately 90, and I just signed another emergency order a few months ago, outlawing an additional 22 compounds.

These creative chemists are taking basically household items and mixing them up to create synthetic drugs. And here’s the part that scares me to death: People think – they call it synthetic marijuana, but this is not synthetic marijuana. This is synthetic heroin, LSD, PCP, acid. It’s a hallucinogenic, it makes you extremely violent. You can go into seizures. And after we started passing the legislation outlawing these compounds, calls to poison control were on a decline.

Now we have more before the Legislature this session. We’re going to put these guys out of business…If you know of a convenience store that’s selling this stuff, call the police or call my office, and we’ll get rid of it.

Q: Is your hat in the ring for lieutenant governor?

BONDI: Well, I’m passionate about being attorney general. I was a prosecutor for almost 20 years when I lost my mind and decided to run for attorney general. I love practicing law. I feel like I can continue my work as a prosecutor and even more as attorney general. My only plans are to run for re-election, because I think if you’re in this office not looking at the next, you can get so much done. This office deserves stability. This office – hopefully, if I’m blessed to be re-elected, then we’ll have eight years of stability in this office.

And there’s so much more we want to do. I could talk all day about it.

By The News Service of Florida

Comments

9 Responses to “Five Questions With Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi”

  1. David Huie Green on April 3rd, 2013 9:31 pm

    ANSWERING:
    “@ huh: Explain how legalizing pot would make the other synthetic drug makers stop manufacturing. Do you honestly believe that they are manufacturing for zero profit?”

    I’m not huh and may not be answering as he/she would, but I get the impression that the thought is that if people could legally buy marijuana, they wouldn’t be as likely to try something which is sometimes legal and pretends to be the same thing only synthetic.

    Dope users aren’t always that bright and may not realize the difference before it kills them. The substitute is definitely more dangerous than that for which it is pretending to be a substitute.

    And yes, of course, the dope dealers are in it for the money they can make off of dopes. If they can’t make money because people aren’t using the substitute, they will discontinue the money-losing venture.

    David for ending demand
    for personal poison

  2. cygie on April 1st, 2013 9:31 pm

    @ huh: Explain how legalizing pot would make the other synthetic drug makers stop manufacturing. Do you honestly believe that they are manufacturing for zero profit? And that they would just kill that revenue stream? Marijuana is a gateway drug, and when you cannot get high enough off of it, you begin to chase that dragon and try to find something to get high with that is more potent. You may kid yourself, but the dopamine sensors in your own brain will continue to crave something, whether it be weed, coke, oxy, xanax bars, or whatever.
    Yea, legalize. Let me know how that works out for you.

  3. huh on April 1st, 2013 7:40 pm

    “These creative chemists are taking basically household items and mixing them up to create synthetic drugs. And here’s the part that scares me to death: People think – they call it synthetic marijuana, but this is not synthetic marijuana. This is synthetic heroin, LSD, PCP, acid. It’s a hallucinogenic, it makes you extremely violent. You can go into seizures. And after we started passing the legislation outlawing these compounds, calls to poison control were on a decline.”

    If you legalise marijuana , it would solve this problem…

  4. southerngirl on April 1st, 2013 1:47 pm

    To David Huie Green………She is 47 years old. Best looking 47 year old I’ve ever seen, just wish I could age that well

  5. David Huie Green on April 1st, 2013 12:01 pm

    REGARDING:
    ” I was a prosecutor for almost 20 years when I lost my mind and decided to run for attorney general. ”

    Ain’t no way.
    She’s in her mid twenties, tops.

    David for beauty in law

  6. Carrie on April 1st, 2013 11:08 am

    Dear Pam Bondi,

    I am SEVERELY underwater and Bank of America and Fannie Mae have been a nightmare to deal with. when i finally received a loan mod after almost 2 years of sending paperwork etc they increased my principal amount by another 100k in bank fees, processing fees, late fees, etc on a mortage that was already underwater. we now owe 500k on home whose value has been 186k for the last 3 years what do we do?
    The settlement has not helped my family at all.
    my heloc that was suppose to be extinguished did not , not even with the Fl hardest hit nor the settlement
    it has become nightmare for my family.

  7. JCELLOPS on April 1st, 2013 11:01 am

    i would agree with KATHY, on this one…..obamacare is a losing cause! ……ok, im being facetious……however, i am quite encouraged by the fact that (a few days ago) EVEN the democrates in the senate voted 79/20 to **REPEAL** a portion of obamas’ “AFFORDABLE” (jk) CARE act—>aka “obamacare”…..they repealed the 2.3% sales tax that was supposed to be imposed on medical equipment…no genius needed to realize the far reaching NEGATIVE $$ impact that it would have had on our already struggling economy…hopefully, little by little, as low and middle Americans begin to feel the continued hurt of obamacare, more of obamacare will be repealed…..but, PAM BONDI has done nothing but good for florida since shes been attorny general…she is on fire!!!….she kinda gives me the same freshly renewed hopeful feeling of encouragement as does when i hear the wonderful DR BEN CARSON speak about our country presently and then, going forward….i see a light at the end of the tunnel!

  8. Worth it on April 1st, 2013 7:23 am

    Some battles need to be fought even if they appear at the onset to have little chance of success. If you do nothing to promote what you believe is right, then you have no right to complain when things turn out in a way you disagree with.

    At least she tried, and I respect that.

  9. kathy@frontier.net on April 1st, 2013 6:43 am

    Takes a losing cause Obama Care to the supreme court and loses and is the new leading Republican in Fla. Who would figure but another Republican?





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