By Daniel Ducassi
June 10, 2016
Democratic congressman Ted Deutch on Friday slammed Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Friday for her “silence” on Trump’s recent controversial remarks about the federal judge presiding over a civil fraud lawsuit against Trump University.
Trump has claimed that the Mexican heritage of U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel — who was born in Indiana — creates "an inherent conflict of interest.”
The remarks have drawn widespread condemnation, even from many prominent Republicans. But some of the state’s top Republican officeholders who have endorsed Trump, including Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott, haven’t followed suit.
Deutch noted that Bondi has said she was "devastated” following an AP report that she “nixed” investigating Trump University after her political committee received a $25,000 contribution from Donald Trump that she personally solicited. But he said that on Trump's Curiel remarks, Bondi's "silence has been deafening.”
"The contrast is so stark,” Deutch said in a conference call with reporters Friday.
Bondi’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Bondi is scheduled to appear at Trump’s rally in Tampa on Saturday, as is Governor Rick Scott. On Friday, the Trump campaign denied a journalist for POLITICO Florida media credentials for the event.
Deutch said Bondi’s silence on Trump's comments, which he called "the clearest example of racist speech that I can remember in politics," and her continued support of Trump, is all the more troubling because she’s the state’s top lawyer.
“She in particular, as the attorney general, has a responsibility to speak out against this kind of statement, not just because it’s racist,” said Deutch, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee.
Noting the importance of an independent judiciary, he explained that "she has a responsibility to speak out as Florida’s top lawyer because it’s so utterly inconsistent with the way the law is supposed to be administered."
Deutch called on Bondi to withdraw her endorsement until he “acknowledges what he’s done and apologizes for it."
Bloomberg reported this week that Bondi was on a phone call with Trump in which he ordered his surrogates to ramp up attacks on Curiel, as well as on journalists.
Deutch also hammered Scott for refusing to address Trump's controversial comments in a press conference about Tropical Storm Colin earlier this week, where Scott said "right now I want to talk about the tropical storm."
Trump has since toned down his repeated attacks on Curiel, following pressure from Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus and other prominent Republicans, but has not apologized for the comments.
The controversy came as Trump’s favorability among Florida Latino voters is already in the basement, including Cuban-Americans.
A new Trump-related controversy bubbled up this week in Miami, as students and parents have called on the chairwoman of Miami Dade College’s board of trustees, Helen Aguirre Ferre, to step down after she was picked to be the GOP’s Hispanic communications director.
“There’s a sense she can’t be legitimizing and sanitizing and being a mouthpiece for a campaign extraordinarily noted for being imbued with racist, divisive language… while also seeking to represent the large diverse communities that include many immigrant and undocumented students in Miami-Dade College,” said Maria Rodriguez, as statewide immigration reform activist.
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