The New York Times published today a story on the growing influence of corporate lobbyists over attorneys general – Lobbyists, Bearing Gifts, Pursue Attorneys General. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and her relationship with the Dickstein Shapiro law firm was highlighted.
NY Times uncovered how Dickstein Shapiro’s clients have avoided investigation in Florida since Bondi took office in 2011.
Accretive Health, a Chicago-based hospital bill collection company, whose operations in Minnesota had been shut down by that state’s attorney general’s office for abusive collection practices, turned to Dickstein Shapiro to make sure Bondi’s office took no action. It didn’t.
Bridgepoint Education, a for-profit online school, had been under scrutiny for it sales practices in Iowa and other states. After Dickstein set up meetings with Bondi’s staff, the decision was made not to take up the matter.
A similar meeting was set up for another Dickstein client, Herbalife, which had also been investigated other places for its sales practices. Again no investigation was opened.
Bondi also dropped the case that her predecessor, Bill McCollum, had started against Travelocity and Priceline—Dickstein’s clients—over allegations the online hotel reservation companies conspired to improperly withhold taxes on hotel rooms booked in Florida.
Meanwhile Bondi has attended numerous conferences at high-priced resorts—all expenses paid. The NY Times reports nearly $25,000 of airfare, hotels and meals in the past two years just for events sponsored by the Republican Attorneys General Association, funded indirectly by corporate sponsors.
The Attorney General is supposed to be the “people’s lawyer” –fighting for consumers and individuals in our state. The NY Times questions whether Pam Bondi has truly had the best interests of Floridians in mind.
Please read the article before you vote on November 4.