State Politics

Legislature’s big day brings out dignitaries — but no Bondi

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi introduces then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign event in Tampa on March 14, 2016.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi introduces then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign event in Tampa on March 14, 2016.

— As the Florida Legislature elected its leaders and organized for the upcoming term Tuesday, all manner of dignitaries came to take part.

Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater sat in the front rows of the state House and Senate chambers. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio made a rare trip to the capital city, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera made the trek from his home in Miami, though he had no obligation to do so.

But one member of the Florida Cabinet was nowhere to be found. Where was Attorney General Pam Bondi?

It’s not clear where Bondi is, and a spokeswoman did not respond to emails asking about why the attorney general missed the Legislature’s organizing session, which is a ceremonial event.

She did take part in a Tuesday morning conference call with Scott and Atwater to certify results of the election. But the Department of State, which manages the Elections Canvassing Commission, did not know where Bondi was making her phone call.

Bondi is rarely in the state capital. Travel records show that she often comes back to town from her Tampa home for Cabinet meetings and other events that require her to be in Tallahassee.

But it’s also possible she was out of the state when state lawmakers were formally convening for the first time since the election. Bondi, a friend and early supporter of President-elect Donald Trump, was named to the executive committee of his transition team.

As well, she is considered a frontrunner for a job in the new administration, perhaps as the White House drug czar given her work to shut down pill mills in Florida.

Bondi may not have been in the Florida Capitol, but has anyone checked Trump Tower?

Contact Michael Auslen at mauslen@tampabay.com. Follow @MichaelAuslen.

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