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Bondi is New Attorney General

By: Kathleen Haughney, The News Service of Florida
By: Kathleen Haughney, The News Service of Florida

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, January 4, 2011 --

Former Hillsborough County prosecutor Pam Bondi, flanked by family members, was sworn in Tuesday as Florida’s attorney general, pledging to continue the state’s fight against the federal health care overhaul and help Florida businesses recover from the oil spill.

“Health care is the top of my radar and BP, the oil spill,” Bondi told the News Service following her swearing in. “It’s been over eight months. I want to make sure all our citizens, our businesses, our charter fishermen, our restaurants are all compensated and that Florida receives its fair share of the $20 billion.”

Bondi, a Tampa native, worked as an assistant state attorney in Hillsborough County for 18 years prior to stepping down to run for attorney general. She had never run for the top prosecutor’s office herself, but was well known in the Tampa area for prosecuting high profile cases and elsewhere for working as a legal expert for Fox News.

Bondi swept past Democrat Dan Gelber in the attorney general’s race, portraying her opponent as a Tallahassee insider, a death knell in an anti-incumbent and anti-Democrat year.

She was also immediately embraced by several establishment Republican groups such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Florida. Her predecessor, Bill McCollum also gave her a boost by filing the lawsuit against President Obama’s health care overhaul, giving Bondi a major talking point throughout the campaign.

Bondi has pledged to continue McCollum’s lawsuit, work on the BP issue and “streamline” the office.

“We’re just ready to start working as hard as we can,” she said.

Bondi has already made several hires for her office, including naming former Democratic state Sen. Dave Aronberg, who lost in the primary to Gelber as a special counsel. Aronberg will head the attorney general’s anti pill mill initiative, an issue he worked on in the Senate and as a lawyer in former Attorney General’s Bob Butterworth’s office.

“I think it says a lot about her that we’re able to work together on this,” Aronberg said following her inauguration.

Other staff hires made so far by Bondi include former Jeb Bush aide Carlos Muniz as her chief of staff and deputy attorney general, Pat Gleason as special counsel for open government and Jennifer Krell Davis as spokeswoman. Bondi said she is still looking to fill the role of solicitor general and a few other spots on her team.


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