Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi listens to a report of the investigation of Dozier reform school during a cabinet meeting at the state Capitol, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Tallahassee, Fla.  (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

Executive summary: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2013 was considering joining in a lawsuit against Trump University.  Shortly thereafter, a check for $25,000 was sent to Bondi's campaign political action committee [electioneering communications organization] "And Justice For All" by the Trump Foundation. AG Bondi (who has since endorsed Trump) ended up not joining in on the Trump University lawsuit.  So far, so bad: but here's the wrinkle: the left-wing government transparency group CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) today noted that the Trump Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and is thus not permitted to make campaign contributions*. Nobody noticed at the time because while the Trump Foundation reported the contribution properly on Florida campaign finance disclosure forms, it reported it to the IRS as a contribution to "Justice For All," which is a non-political, pro-life group out of Kansas.  Justice for All has confirmed that they never got that money; CREW has now lodged a formal complaint with the IRS.

Now, I have a powerful advantage over many people when it comes to this sort of thing: a very smart, aggressively apolitical, and nigh-infinitely sensible wife.  I often use her as a check on my enthusiasms; she has accurately forecast the limits to many a political scandal that I have pitched to her, over the years.  But when I described this one to her, she looked at me as if either I was joking, or I had left something out, or both.  But no, I had not. The bottom line is, the Trump Foundation shouldn't have offered that contribution and Bondi's PAC ECO shouldn't have taken it.  And it looks really, really bad that it just happens that the IRS got told wrong information that just happened to keep the IRS's own internal watchdogs from independently starting an investigation into a potential violation of campaign finance law**.

Whether or not Donald Trump survives this one is, alas, open to debate: after all, the man routinely survives worse.  But it really doesn't look good for AG Pam Bondi.  I mean, why did her PAC ECO take a campaign contribution from a 501(c)(3) nonprofit? Did they figure that it wouldn't get noticed? - Although, to be fair: if Trump hadn't run for President, it might not have...

Via @resnikoff.

Moe Lane

*Exact text is "Organizations that are exempt from income tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code as organizations described in section 501(c)(3) may not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office."

**There's a certain karma here, given that this entire affair was made possible by a bad law created in large part by Senator John McCain. Still, bad law or no: one should never give the impression that one is trying to flaunt [that you're breaking] the rules.

[Some mild editing, after the fact. Most pertinently, Bondi used an Electioneering Communications Organization {ECO}, not a PAC; it can coordinate with the candidate, but has a more limited scope and cannot operate at certain times during the election cycle. It is definitely not a Super PAC. - ML]