A day that should have been the greatest in Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s life — well, Saturday was to be her third time at the altar, and you know what they say about the third time being the charm — will remain her most striking early-term public relations fiasco.
Hard to believe in an administration like Gov. Rick Scott‘s — which couldn’t get positive coverage if Scott kneeled before reporters — Bondi made a giant mess out of the ultimate uplifting story, the story of her own wedding!
I guess Gossip Extra is mostly to blame since I broke the story late Friday that Bondi had secretly flown to the Cayman Islands with relatives to get married.
How did I find out?
I called the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman because it came up first on a Google search for “weddings” and “Grand Cayman,” and two staffers told me Bondi indeed would be getting hitched there Saturday.
They also gave me the list of rooms reserved for the event and the schedule, which included a 5 p.m. ceremony on the hotel’s Great Lawn.
State Senator Paula Dockery knew, too. She tweeted about running into Bondi at the airport and obviously talked to wedding guests on Bondi’s flight.
Finally, Bondi herself announced in November she was preparing for a May wedding somewhere “far away.”
But instead of making it official on Saturday as planned, Bondi phoned Tampa Bay Times gossip Amy Scherzer to tell her the shindig in the Caribbean was nothing more than a pre-wedding party and that the union would be sealed in an undermined Baptist church near Tampa.
Scherzer didn’t ask too many questions, and that’s just how Bondi seemed to like it because the attorney general even provided a photo of her in a wedding dress and fiance Greg Henderson on the beach!
Obviously, something happened on Saturday in the Caribbean as the Gossip Extra story spread on websites throughout the state.
Bondi allegedly threw a fit as managers wiped the names of her entire party off computers used by hotel front desk staff.
Was it criticism from her Conservative voters that she wasn’t getting hitched in a church? Or was it those saying she should have spent money in a foreign country instead of the cash-strapped Florida? A seasoned pol who knows Bondi well told me it could be both.
So, if that’s indeed what spooked Bondi, she needs to grow a thicker skin and admit that she got in bed with the wrong people during the election.
Now that she is back in Tally, meanwhile, Bondi won’t address the snafu. Her spokeswoman, Jenn Meale, emailed me today that Bondi’s trip was to celebrate upcoming nuptials, not the nuptials themselves.
Really! And I’ve got a cheap mortgage on a great house that Bondi should consider buying.
I covered the then-Gov. Charlie Crist‘s wedding to socialite Carole Rome in 2008.
Crist was a seasoned politician, and it showed. There were no secrets, no sneaking around. The schedule was made available to the newspapers. Crist’s constituents gathered inside and outside the church to wish him well.
During the banquet, at the emblematic Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg, Crist came out with the bride to take pictures with the dozens of supporters, and yes, even often-critical reporters, who were not invited.
There were smiles and warm wishes all around — and the coverage turned out great for the governor at a time when rumors arose that he was gay.
Maybe Bondi should’ve hired Crist as her wedding planner. She sure could’ve used it.
Because voters should wonder if someone who can’t be candid about something as pure as a wedding can be genuine about anything else.