Pam Bondi was a political beginner four years ago. She was a career prosecutor in Tampa and was happy in her job.
She had never run for public office. Yet she was seeking the highest position in law enforcement in Florida.
So the Times-Union did not endorse Bondi. We just felt that she did not seem ready.
What a difference four years has made.
Now after one term in office, Bondi has the confidence that comes with success.
She went after the pill mills and helped shut them down with allies in the Legislature. No longer are seven Floridians dying each day from prescription drug abuse.
Then she went after human trafficking, a scourge in Florida, by putting prosecutors to work on it statewide.
Bondi moved her office’s Medicaid fraud operation from Tallahassee to Miami, where much of the worst fraud is located. The unit recovered $182 million in fraudulent funds in 2012-13.
And she helped bring the state’s hard-hit homeowners relief with mortgage settlements from some of the nation’s biggest institutions. Florida borrowers will receive an estimated $7.6 billion in benefits from loan modifications, including principal reductions, and other direct relief. And Bondi made sure that a large portion of those funds went to the people who needed it — rather than letting the money be diverted to the state’s general fund, as other states have done.
A PROSECUTOR, NOT A POLITICIAN
The best word to describe Bondi is “energetic.”
She is not a natural politician. That shows sometimes with rambling, unscripted answers that leave Bondi vulnerable to political cheap shots.
However, when asked about her request that Gov. Rick Scott delay an execution because it conflicted with a political event, Bondi’s reply was quite refreshing.
It was a mistake, she said simply, taking the blame in straightforward fashion.
It was admirable, impressive stuff.
In answer to questions from the Times-Union editorial board, Bondi said she supports the Stand Your Ground Law but would listen to constructive suggestions for improvements.
She supports more funding for DNA testing for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Prosecutors nationally are bringing rape kits off the shelves and discovering serial rapists.
She praised the Jacksonville Reentry Center for ex-offenders, calling it a national model for placing former prisoners into society.
She is a big supporter of Drug Court, which uses the carrot of rehabilitation and the stick of prison to successfully get people off drugs and back as productive members of society.
She supports Florida’s open government laws.
It’s also clear that Bondi is not interested in using the attorney general’s office as a stepping stone. She is a prosecutor at heart. And she is focused on using those skills to help people.
Pam Bondi deserves another term as attorney general for all the right reasons. She should be re-elected on Nov. 4.