Welcome to "Why Is My Dad Mad?", MTV’s occasional inquiry into issues that may come up on your Facebook feed or over dinner.
Why is my dad mad?
Has he been posting links to Talking Points Memo a lot lately? Does the name “Pam Bondi” appear in the headlines?
Yes to both.
Currently, your dad is mad about Donald Trump’s very own “pay-to-play” scandal. Here’s a quick timeline:
— Sometime in the fall of 2013: Republican Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi solicited a campaign contribution from Trump. After a little quote-polishing, both sides have confirmed that this discussion took place.
— Sept. 14, 2013: Bondi’s office declares that it is considering joining other states in the New York AG’s lawsuit against Trump regarding his “Trump University” scam.
— Sept. 17, 2013: Bondi’s SuperPAC, Justice for All, receives a check for $25,000 from The Trump Foundation.
— Oct. 17, 2013: A Bondi spokeswoman tells reporters that Florida will probably not join the New York suit. This turns out to be the case.
— March 14, 2014: Trump holds a $3,000-a-plate fundraiser for Bondi at his fancy resort, Mar-a-Lago.
— And of course, the day before the Florida primary this year, Bondi endorsed Trump.
Uhm, that seems like a pretty clear-cut bribe.
Doesn’t it? Especially considering that Trump has repeatedly boasted about this kind of money-for-favors trade — it’s practically a cornerstone of his campaign. Indeed, he seems to see his ability to buy politicians as not only an example of his “dealmaking,” but also a chance for him to display the crude, dog-humping-a-leg dominance that seems to be his only way of relating to humans he hasn’t sired. “When I call, they kiss my ass,” he’s said of his pet politicians. Or, “When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them, and they are there for me.” Or, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”
Trump’s been at this for awhile. In 1988, he was caught skirting campaign-finance regulations by spreading $150,000 in donations to a New York City Council candidate among 18 different Trump subsidiaries, as well as guaranteeing a $50,000 “loan” to that candidate’s campaign that he later repaid himself. Asked about it at hearing, Trump admitted, “I was under the impression I would be getting my money back” — presumably in the form of financially beneficial city council actions.
But that's just how politics work, right?
Maybe! But Trump has also broken laws regarding campaign contributions and political lobbying, going beyond the kind of dirty-but-legal stuff you might expect. In 2000, he paid a $250,000 fine to the New York State Commission on Lobbying for unreported expenditures — at the time, the largest fine the group had ever imposed. In 1993, the Federal Election Commission fined him for exceeding legal campaign donations by $47,050 — the most of any who violated that law.
Heck, he broke laws with the Bondi contribution! The Trump Foundation is a nonprofit and not supposed to get involved in politics at all — which someone at the Foundation might have realized, because when the Foundation filed its taxes, the $25,000 donation was recorded at going to a similarly named nonpartisan organization. The IRS caught this, however, and Trump wound up paying a $2,500 fine.
WTF. Why haven't I heard about this before?
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has been a real bear about trying to taunt the mainstream press into paying attention. As you noticed, however, some other publications have started taking notice recently, as there have been new developments. The Huffington Post broke the Mar-a-Lago story, and the Washington Post’s indefatigable David Farenthold got the bit about the IRS fine.
But for some reason, the Bondi story has not gotten a lot of attention outside progressive circles, especially compared to the traditional media’s obsessive interest in whatever influence-peddling may have happened at the Clinton Foundation.
“For some reason”? Are you implying that Trump has bought off the media too?
Lol. Well, that would explain a lot! But it’s probably not the case. The question of why Trump’s many and well-documented scandals get relatively little attention next to Clinton’s one big one is something media critics will be arguing for decades — assuming that Clinton wins, of course. If Trump wins, the media critics will be busy fighting for bunk space in the labor camps along with the other dissidents.
Let’s enjoy our freedom to mock authority while we can!
I can’t tell if you’re kidding.
Neither can I!
Okay, but ... Bondi, though. Why do I know that name? Why is that bobbing blond head familiar?
Well, in addition to refusing to defend those Floridians defrauded by Trump University, Bondi also divides her time between vilifying gay people and trying to make sure her state’s citizens can’t get affordable health care.
Basically, Tea Party Barbie is a very busy Republican apparatchik.
The gay rights thing! That’s how I know her! (That other stuff is also bad.)
Yep, she was the star of a viral video when Anderson Cooper confronted her about her hypocrisy following the Pulse massacre. She claimed to be fighting on behalf of LGBT people, and Anderson was all, “Check yourself, I have some facts on my side.” (I am quoting loosely.) An exact quote, though, that Anderson threw in her face: She once said that same-sex marriages would “impose significant public harm.”
It was great TV, made even greater when Bondi claimed that Anderson had ambushed her and/or edited the video unfairly, thus extending the life of the dustup and giving Anderson a chance to show that neither of those things were true.
She also claimed that just after the Pulse tragedy was an inappropriate time to talk about LGBT rights.
O rly? Did she suggest a better time?
How’s never? Do you think never is good for her?
I can’t get over how this demonstrable corruption isn’t a bigger deal.
Oh, the sweet innocence of youth! Welcome to the world of Clinton vs. Everyone Else, my fresh-faced friend — obsessive coverage of even the appearance of questionable actions on her part; shrug emoji for her opponents. It’s a familiar enough pattern that there’s journalistic shorthand to describe it: “The Clinton Rules,” coined back when the phony scandals were about land deals in Arkansas.
If we’re lucky, we’ll get another four-to-eight years to hound the media into rewriting those rules. If we’re not, the media will have sacrificed a whole democracy by playing by them.