The Dallas Morning News
Trump taps lawyer in Florida Trump U case for U.S. job
Attorney helped defend AG’s decision to sit out investigation of fraud
WASHINGTON — As a top aide to Florida’s attorney general, Carlos G. Muniz helped defend the office’s decision to sit out legal action against Trump University. Now the president is naming him to be the top lawyer in the U.S. Education Department.
President Donald Trump has announced his intent to nominate Muniz to serve as general counsel to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The Senate would then consider the nomination of the Republican lawyer.
Emails reviewed by The Associated Press show that in 2013 Muniz, who served as Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s chief of staff for three years, was included in discussions about student complaints alleging fraud with Trump’s namesake real estate seminars.
Muniz, now in private practice, has also been the lead attorney defending Florida State University in a lawsuit by a former student who said the school failed to investigate after she said she was sexually assaulted by the star quarterback of the Seminoles’ 2013 national championship football team. The player was never charged with a crime by police in Tallahassee, and the state attorney’s office declined to pursue a criminal case against him.
An investigation by the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights is still underway, presenting a potential conflict of interest if Muniz is confirmed.
Both Muniz and the White House declined to comment Tuesday, referring all questions to the Education Department.
That department did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment about the Trump University review or whether Muniz would recuse himself from involvement in the Florida State probe.
The AP reported last year that Bondi personally solicited a $25,000 political contribution from Trump as her office was weighing how to respond to questions from the Orlando Sentinel about whether she would join New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in suing the billionaire businessman.
Though both Trump University and the Florida-based Trump Institute had stopped offering classes by the time Bondi took office in 2011, more than 20 consumer complaints had been filed by former students, who said they were swindled.
Emails from August 2013 showed that Muniz was copied on discussions about how to respond to the newspaper’s request for comment, though he did not weigh in.