On Air Now

Listen Now


H 74° L 55°
  • clear-day
    Current Conditions
    Clear. H 74° L 55°
  • clear-night
    Clear. H 74° L 55°
  • clear-day
    Mostly Sunny. H 77° L 57°

The latest newscast

00:00 | 00:00


The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00


The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Correction: Bondi-Conflicts story

In a story Nov. 8 about Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general, stepping down from a lobbying firm as she prepares to defend President Donald Trump in an impeachment investigation, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Bondi lobbied for a Kuwaiti company with a U.S. defense contract. The company is an investment firm and does not have a Defense Department contract.

A corrected version of the story is below:

White House impeachment hire Bondi winding down foreign work

Even as she prepares to defend President Donald Trump against accusations that he pressured a foreign government to aid his re-election campaign, former Florida state Attorney General Pam Bondi has her own entanglements


Associated Press

An agent of the Qataris. Lobbying for a Kuwaiti firm. A decision to steer clear of a lawsuit against Trump University.

As she prepares to defend President Donald Trump against impeachment and accusations that he pressured a foreign government to aid his reelection campaign, former Florida state Attorney General Pam Bondi is stepping down from a lobbying firm where she represented foreign interests.

The White House announced this week that Bondi is one of two new staffers who will join the White House on a temporary basis to bolster its messaging and communications in response to the impeachment inquiry, which is unfolding at a rapid pace. Next week, the House Intelligence Committee will begin holding public hearings with witnesses as they build their case. The inquiry centers on whether Trump abused his office by withholding military aid and other support to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

Trump wanted Ukraine's president to publicly commit to investigating Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. He pushed for the investigation while holding up nearly $400 million in military aid.

Helping craft the White House response to the impeachment inquiry will be Bondi, a longtime Trump supporter who stepped down as Florida's attorney general in January. Since then, Bondi has worked as a lobbyist for Ballard Partners, a Washington firm that has touted its influence inside the Trump administration. Her U.S. clients have included General Motors, the commissioner of Major League Baseball and a Christian anti-human-trafficking advocacy group.

Bondi also registered as a foreign agent for the government of Qatar and as a lobbyist for a Kuwaiti firm, according to Justice Department foreign agent filings and congressional lobbying documents. Her work with the Qataris was related to anti-human-trafficking efforts leading up to the World Cup, a person familiar with the efforts said.

Bondi is now winding up her work for Ballard Partners, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told The Associated Press. Despite Bondi's recent work for foreign and domestic interests, Grisham said those ties would not pose any ethics concerns.

"There is no prohibition in the (U.S. government) Ethics Pledge or ethics regulations that would prevent a former lobbyist or former foreign agent from taking an employee position," Grisham said.

Bondi would have to recuse herself from any matters involving Ballard or other former employers of "matters on which they lobbied," the press secretary said.

Bondi declined to comment Friday.

Bondi signed on in July as a consultant to Qatar's U.S. embassy, providing "support regarding Qatari relations with U.S. government officials, U.S. business entities and nongovernmental audiences, in dealing with matters pertaining to combating human trafficking," according to Justice Department foreign agent filings. A contract amendment shows that her firm was paid $115,000 a month for the work she and a second lobbyist performed for the Qatari embassy.

As Florida's top prosecutor, Bondi stressed human trafficking issues and urged tightening state laws against traffickers. One of her first clients as a Ballard lobbyist was the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, an advocacy group that describes itself as a "faith-based organization anointed by God to fight against human trafficking in America." The group paid Ballard $80,000 this year to lobby the White House and Congress on "anti-human trafficking issues."

A person familiar with Ballard's operation said the firm had submitted paperwork to the Justice Department on Thursday to deregister Bondi as a foreign agent for the Qatari Embassy.

Bondi also represented the KGL Investment Company KSCC, a Kuwaiti firm also known as KGLI. The firm has paid Ballard $300,000 this year to lobby the White House, National Security Council, State Department and Congress on immigration policy, human rights and economic sanctions issues.

The Kuwaiti company has been embroiled in a spate of legal disputes and court actions, including the imprisonment of two of its former executives in Kuwait on embezzlement charges. Ballard and several other lobbying firms working for the company have contacted administration and congressional officials, exploring whether the U.S. could use Magnitsky Act sanctions to target Kuwaiti officials who have been in a long-running dispute with the firm.

Bondi's clients with foreign interests also included IGT Global Solutions, a subsidiary of an Italian conglomerate that manufactures slot machines and specializes in gaming and lottery software and equipment. She also represented Miami-based cruise line Carnival Corp.

Ballard Partners is also sending letters to Congress to formally end Bondi's work as a registered lobbyist, though official notification may not be publicly available until the end of this quarter, said the person familiar with the company, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the firm's internal matters.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Thursday dismissed questions about Bondi's lobbying, saying, "She's not here to lobby. She's here to make sense about how in the world we're going to impeach or remove a democratically elected president."

Bondi's previous dealings with Trump had also raised ethics alarms during her tenure as Florida attorney general.

In September 2013, the nonprofit Donald J. Trump Foundation gave $25,000 to a Florida political committee supporting Bondi's reelection campaign for attorney general. The donation came at the same time that Bondi's office was considering whether to join other state prosecutors in suing Trump University, which ran a for-profit real estate seminar, after numerous consumer complaints.

A month later, Bondi announced that she would not be joining in the lawsuits against Trump University. Both the university and the foundation were later closed in response to state government legal actions against them.

The ethics advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington charged that the Trump nonprofit's donation was illegal because the charity failed to report it, which would have been prohibited under federal rules governing nonprofits such as the Trump Foundation. The nonprofit later told The Washington Post that it had paid a $2,500 fine to the Internal Revenue Service for violating federal tax rules in its donation backing the pro-Bondi political organization.

A judge on Thursday ordered Trump to pay $2 million to an array of charities as a fine for misusing his own charitable foundation to further his political and business interests.


Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.

Read More

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • More than a dozen New York police officers were hurt in an overnight blaze in the city's Bronx borough, authorities said early Wednesday. >> Read more trending news  According to WPIX and WNBC, the fire began about 11 p.m. Tuesday at a Baychester Avenue apartment building. The 100-plus firefighters who responded had the blaze under control within one hour, officials said. As flames rose from the building's second and third stories, police officers knocked on residents' doors to make sure everyone had made it out safely, WPIX reported. Fourteen of the officers were hurt and treated for smoke inhalation, authorities said. WPIX reported that two residents 'sustained minor injuries' in the blaze. In a tweet, police Chief of the Department Terence Monahan praised the officers who rushed into the apartment building. 'Thankfully, nobody was seriously injured,' Monahan said. 'It's courageous acts like this that earn our officers the name -- NY's Finest.' Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the fire. Read more here or here.
  • An Ohio woman admitted to killing her three sons and was sentenced to 37 years to life in prison after pleading guilty during a hearing Tuesday in Logan County Common Pleas Court. >> Read more trending news  Brittany Pilkington, of Bellefontaine, pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of murder as part of a plea deal. A recommended sentencing of 37 years to life was approved. Pilkington was sentenced to 15 years to life for each count of murder and seven years for involuntary manslaughter. Her defense team said test results showed Pilkington’s brain has damage from severe abuse and childhood lead poisoning. Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart also addressed the court, saying he considered what her sons would want him to say for them. “I can’t even imagine what they’d want me to say,” he said. Pilkington was accused of smothering her three sons, Niall, Gavin and Noah, to death over a 13-month period. Niall, 3 months, died in July 2014; Gavin, 4, died in April 2015; and Noah, 3 months, died in August 2015.
  • A Mississippi mother and her boyfriend have been charged with capital murder in what police are calling the 'suspicious' death of a 13-month-old child.  >> Read more trending news  The incident happened at the Southern Inn and Suites on Hamilton Road in Southaven on Sept. 25, according to Maj. Wayne Perkins with the Southaven Police Department. Detectives began investigating the child's death and called for toxicology reports on the deceased child. They received those reports Monday.  With this new evidence, 18-year-old Kentavia Chapman and her boyfriend, 37-year-old Pierre Jarrell, were both charged with capital murder Monday, authorities said. Chapman and Jarrell were originally charged with felony child abuse in September.  Jarrell also was charged with two counts of felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.
  • A Georgia sheriff's deputy was shot and killed Tuesday night in Augusta, authorities confirmed. >> Read more trending news  The Richmond County deputy, narcotics investigator Cecil Ridley, was fatally injured at 12th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Augusta, Sheriff’s Office Sgt. William McCarty confirmed to AJC.com. The deputy was conducting proactive patrols to curb gun violence in the area, which began last week, McCarty said. At some point, Ridley encountered a suspect and gunfire was exchanged. It’s unclear what led to the shooting. The suspect was also shot and taken to Augusta University Medical Center, McCarty said. The suspect’s condition is unknown. The GBI confirmed on Twitter it is responding to an officer-involved shooting involving the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. No other information has been released. The Richmond deputy is the seventh Georgia law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty in 2019, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks deaths throughout the nation.  Ridley is the 108th officer killed in the line of duty this year, according to the database. He was 51 and lived in Augusta, address records show. It’s unclear how long Ridley worked at the Sheriff’s Office, but he received an award in 2018 for five years of service. This is the 77th officer-involved shooting investigation the GBI has opened this year. The 76th investigation was prompted by a shooting in Monroe on Monday night after an altercation at a hotel, AJC.com previously reported. A man was shot twice by police after he allegedly refused officers’ commands and accelerated a Jeep. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also tracks officer-involved shootings that don't involve the GBI, and those numbers sometimes differ from the GBI's tally. – Visit AJC.com for the latest on this developing story.
  • From now through the end of December, Central Floridians can head to Lake County and ride The Polar Express. The Polar Express Train Ride is licensed by Warner Bros. and features a musical, theatrical recreation of a Christmas movie favorite. The ride began on Friday, Nov. 15 and runs to Dec. 30 out of the Tavares train station at Wooton Park in Tavares. The ride’s website says, “You will have your golden ticket punched by the conductor, experience the dancing chefs who will serve cocoa and a tasty treat, interact with the hobo and other characters from the movie, along with enjoying a reading of the classic children’s book THE POLAR EXPRESS™ by Chris Van Allsburg.” Tickets for the ride tart at $48 for weekday coach passes and go up to $$88 for first-class weekend tickets. CLICK HERE for more info and to purchase tickets.

Washington Insider

  • After hearing Tuesday from three people who listened in on President Trump's July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine, lawmakers will take testimony from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who helped to coordinate efforts in Ukraine with President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Sondland will certainly have to address a phone call he supposedly made from a restaurant in Ukraine - on an unsecured cell phone - where he spoke to President Trump, who made clear he wanted to know if Ukraine was going to announce it had started investigations into the Bidens, and a 2016 conspiracy theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - had hacked Democrats during the elections. “Ambassador Sondland is a big personality,” said former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, who testified a day earlier. Follow along with developments here: - 11:45 am. The GOP response in the hearing (and outside) is that President Trump never directly told Sondland to do anything. Q: The President never told you about pre-conditions for a White House meeting. Sondland: 'Personally, no.' 11:30 am.  President Trump is now 45 minutes behind schedule for his departure from the White House.  He is headed today to Texas. 11:25 am.  Nunes starts the GOP time by focusing not on anything Sondland said in his testimony so far today, focusing on Republican allegations that Ukraine was 'out to get him' during the 2016 elections. First question from Nunes on this line. Sondland: 'I am not aware of it.' Nunes keeps going with more. Sondland: 'I am not aware of it.' 11:20 am.  During the break, Democrats went to the TV cameras stationed outside.  11:15 am.  Again in this impeachment hearing process, viewers on Fox News are getting some different messages. 11:00 am.  A light moment in the hearing, as Sondland says he and President Trump tend to communicate with words that probably aren't for kids. 10:47 am.  On the Drudge Report.  It's not the greatest of headlines for the President on what's usually a favorable website. 10:45 am. Sondland said the President and Giuliani wanted Ukraine to publicly announce the Burisma / Bidens / Crowdstrike-2016 investigations. But Sondland says that doesn't mean Ukraine actually had to undertake the investigations. 10:35 am.  Critics of the President in Congress say the testimony today from Sondland is a big, big deal. 10:20 am. Sondland says Secretary of State Pompeo was up to date with the Giuliani/Trump efforts all along. Sondland says he raised the delay in aid with Vice President Pence on September 1.  10:15 am.  Sondland has finished with his opening statement.  There is a lot of explosive testimony there, especially Sondland saying that 'everyone was in the loop' about the President seeking investigations from Ukraine. 10:05 am.  Was there a quid pro quo involving Ukraine?  Sondland says, in one sense, the answer is yes. 10:00 am.  Sondland says he was surprised to see the rough transcript of the July 25 call the President had with the leader of Ukraine, because he had not been told about the fact that President Trump mentioned investigations related to Biden/Burisma/Crowdstrike in the call. 9:50 am.  Sondland repeatedly says that State Department officials wanted no part of Giuliani being involved in diplomatic work.  But the President did.  So, they had to play the hand they were dealt (Sondland's description). 9:40 am.  Democrats immediately seize on the 'quid pro quo' description by Sondland.  9:27 am.  Sondland uses the term “quid pro quo” to describe what was going on at three different points in his prepared testimony. 9:25 am.  Sondland will also show that Vice President Pence was in that loop as well. 9:20 am.  Sondland says multiple times - “Everyone was in the loop.” 9:15 am.  Sondland says it has been difficult to come up with answers because the White House and State Department have not helped him get documents and phone records. 9:10 am.  The hearing is underway.  Sondland's statement is going to provide some interesting moments in questioning from both parties.  Here is the Ambassador's recount of the July 26 unsecured cell call to President Trump from a restaurant in Kyiv. 9:00 am - The opening statement of Sondland is now available at the following link. 8:40 am.  Someone asked me on Facebook what the advantage is of actually being in the hearing room.  In one way, it is being a witness to history.  But not seeing the TV feed could put you at a disadvantage, as many others watch every facial twitch, frown, and smile on the faces of the witnesses and lawmakers.  When I got here into the room this morning, I found the still photographers had taken my power plug spot, and a TV crew has taken my audio feed. So, I had to deal with that, and switch things around. If I were back in my booth in either the House or Senate side of the Capitol, everything would be just fine. I could stand, go to the bathroom, have lunch,  etc.  Here is my “view” of the dais. 8:10 am.  The folks at Fox and Friends do not buy the testimony that President Trump talks loud and could be overheard on his cell phone. 8:00 am.  A reminder of the testimony so far, is that Sondland called up President Trump from a restaurant in Ukraine, and spoke to him on an unsecured cell phone.  In that call, US embassy staffer David Holmes testified that he could easily hear the President's voice, and hear what was being discussed with Sondland - investigations - which Mr. Trump wanted from the Ukraine government. The Holmes testimony can be found at this link. 7:50 am.  The Sondland phone call with President Trump is going to get a lot of attention today - and rightfully so. 7:45 am.  Most readers probably know Sondland's name from the impeachment / Ukraine controversy, but don't really know all of the details.  There's some interesting stuff which has GOP lawmakers a bit uneasy, because the script today may not be that obvious at first. 7:35 am.  It's not just Gordon Sondland testifying today, starting at 9 am.  And there is another hearing on Thursday.  Like Tuesday, it would be no surprise for me if the hearings are still going at 8 pm - which is when the Democratic debate in Atlanta is set to begin.  That would a split screen political Super Bowl.