- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Donald Trump’s campaign on Wednesday downplayed the notion of any sort of “pay to play” in a case where Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi decided not to pursue a fraud case against Trump University shortly after Mr. Trump’s foundation gave $25,000 to a group supporting her re-election.

“In the case of Mr. Trump and Attorney General [Bondi], they both said that they [had] never discussed the Trump University lawsuit,” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“They may have talked about anything. He has a residence in Florida,” she said.

Mr. Trump had to pay a $2,500 fine this year after the IRS found his foundation violated tax law by contributing to a political group in 2013 supporting Ms. Bondi.

“He has supported many, many Republican candidates,” Ms. Conway said.

The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which has been looking into the matter, sent a complaint to the IRS Wednesday calling for an investigation.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Ms. Bondi’s office said in September 2013 that it was reviewing allegations made a month earlier in a fraud case against Mr. Trump’s Trump University real estate courses.

A few days after that report, Mr. Trump’s foundation made a $25,000 contribution to a political group supporting Ms. Bondi, and in mid-October, her office said there was no consideration of whether to join the lawsuit.

“I don’t think she ever said she was considering looking at Trump University,” Trump campaign adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day.” “A lower-level staffer … admitted they never sent it up to Pam Bondi, so it never made it to her desk.”

Ms. Huckabee Sanders described the episode as a “clerical mistake.”

“They self-reported, they corrected immediately, and Donald Trump paid that full price back — every single penny,” Ms. Huckabee Sanders said.

Mr. Trump has often touted the fact that he’s donated to both Republicans and Democrats in the past and that politicians are easily manipulated into doing what donors want.

He has been hammering Democratic rival Hillary Clinton over alleged “pay to play” schemes involving the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.

“We do know that Mrs. Clinton, Secretary Clinton used the State Department as a concierge for many foreign donors,” Ms. Conway said.

“I think there’s actually no comparison between a man who gives consistently to Republican candidates in their re-election … and a woman who, as secretary of state, had her official staff that we pay for bartering for position and bartering for state dinners — just making contributions that are inappropriate,” she said.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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