Unregistered charities case against Pam Bondi back in court – Florida Politics (blog)
An Orlando entrepreneur is now demanding a jury trial in his suit against Attorney General Pam Bondi, in which he claims she forces businesses to donate millions of dollars to unregistered charities as part of settlements in consumer protection cases.
John D. Smith, who invented Storm Stoppers plastic panels, marketed as a “plywood alternative” to protect windows during storms, filed papers this week in Leon County Circuit Civil court. He had been investigated on a consumer fraud allegation by Bondi’s office in 2015.
Another filing by Smith said Bondi “should have at least affirmatively stated that her exercise of powers comports with Florida law.” The next hearing in the matter is set for today.
The latest documents are in response to Bondi’s request for a summary judgment, which allows parties to win a case without a trial.
But such motions are granted only when there is a significant dispute as to the facts of a case. They allow requiring enough evidence to make that determination. And Smith’s lawyer, Scott Siverson, has said he hasn’t been able to get information from Bondi’s office.
Bondi’s motion says “there is no statutory requirement that … settlements under (Florida law) be made to a charity, much less to a registered charity.”
Siverson countered: “A mere possibility that any of the charities were unregistered (or) solicited the contributions they received creates factual disputes which cannot be resolved on summary judgment.”
He added: “Nowhere does the Florida Legislature authorize the (Office of the Attorney General) to forward (a) contribution to whomever it pleases.”
Since she first assumed office in 2011, Bondi’s office settled enforcement actions with 14 businesses in which they wound up paying more than $5.5 million to 35 unregistered charities, Smith’s suit says.
Bondi has called the legal action “meritless” and “harassment.”
Editor’s Note — This article was originally published Saturday as