Bondi directed her office’s early recount efforts from California political event

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Bondi directed her office’s early recount efforts from California political event




Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

Pam Bondi’s office got in the mix Sunday, firing off letters asking state election officials to investigate any voter fraud. | MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

TALLAHASSEE — Attorney General Pam Bondi, Florida’s top legal officer, was attending a political event in California over the weekend as Florida erupted in legal and political chaos over its 2018 midterm recount, which included her office sending letters to law enforcement and election officials.

Bondi was among several Republican attorneys general attending the Republican Attorneys General Association’s fall meeting at Monarch Beach Resort on the Pacific coast between Los Angeles and San Diego, according a person people familiar with her schedule. The resort on its website describes itself as offering an “unmatched escape that embodies the barefoot elegance of Southern California’s coastal lifestyle.”

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Bondi attended the event as Florida formally kicked off expected recounts Saturday for three statewide races, including U.S. Senate, governor, agriculture commissioner and three state legislative races.

Her office got in the mix Sunday, firing off letters asking state election officials to investigate any voter fraud and blasting state law enforcement for not pursuing voter fraud because election officials told them there was none.

A letter from her office was sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Sunday evening after Gov. Rick Scott’s Senate campaign called on the agency to investigate voter fraud in Palm Beach and Broward counties. One day after Scott’s request last Thursday, FDLE said that the Florida Department of State, which oversees state elections, had no fraud allegations to report, so FDLE did not start any investigations.

The fact FDLE said there was no voter fraud to report was used as pushback by Democrats when Republicans, including Scott and President Donald Trump, alleged without evidence that fraud was occurring in those Democratic-leaning counties.

In a letter, Bondi said the response from FDLE was not good enough.

“Commissioner, protesters continue to grow around the state as well as additional complaints of election impropriety,” Bondi wrote to FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen. “Your duty to investigate this matter is clear. I am directing you to take the necessary steps to promote public safety and to assure that our state will guarantee integrity in our election process.”

Bondi declined to comment for this story, but a source familiar with the event says she was at the Republican attorneys general gathering through at least Sunday night, which means she was “directing” state law enforcement from the political event at the California resort. The event began Saturday and is scheduled to run through Tuesday, according to a schedule of events that lists Bondi as an attendee.

In a separate letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who heads state elections, Bondi formally asked his office to “report any reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to both the statewide prosecutor and sate attorney.”

RAGA is a Washington-based group that raises money for and helps coordinate campaigns for Republican attorneys general. This year, the group played a role in electing Bondi’s replacement, Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody, who was also at the California event.

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