Eric Lipton's disturbing New York Times series about the influence of corporate lobbyists on state attorneys general, including Florida's own Pam Bondi, has won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.
Bondi was prominently featured in the story, which showed how lobbyists are are using campaign donations, fancy dinners and other inducements to pressure attorneys general to drop lawsuits, ignore advice of state regulators and even adopt talking points pre-approved by the lobbyists' clients.
Among the revelations: the apparent success of Dickstein Shapiro, a law firm with a track record of helping corporate clients get what they want from attorneys general, in convincing Bondi and her deputies not to take action against companies whose operations had drawn fire in other states — including online hotel reservation firms, which Bondi's predecessor, Bill McCollum, had pursued, only to see the investigation dropped once Bondi took office.
The story also detailed what it called "unusual steps" by Dickstein "to promote Ms. Bondi’s political career," including arranging a cover story on her in a magazine distributed to corporate lawyers, and "direct political contributions."
Bondi was firm in denying any influence. "Absolutely no access to me or my staff is going to have any bearing on my efforts to protect Floridians,” Bondi told the Times.
But she can't be happy that the Pulitzer is going to get people reading and talking about the Times investigation all over again.