Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has initiated an investigation into whether failed Democrat presidential candidate and billionaire Michael Bloomberg broke the law in paying off the fines and fees of 32,000 felons so they can satisfy the requirements for the restoration of their voting rights before the November election.
Bloomberg, along with controversial NBA star Lebron James and singer John Legend, raised close to $20 million dollars in an event associated with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. Bloomberg has also pledged $100 million of his own money to bolster the vote for Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden in the State of Florida.
Florida’s recently passed Amendment 4 makes ex-felons eligible for voting rights restoration if they complete all terms of their sentences, including parole or probation, and pay off all fines and fees levied. Those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense are not eligible. According to the Coalition, over 700,000 ex-felons in Florida are affected by Amendment 4.
A memo from the Bloomberg camp, recently exposed by The Washington Post, expresses the intent behind Bloomberg’s actions in the State of Florida:
“We have identified a significant vote share that requires a nominal investment. The data shows that in Florida, Black voters are a unique universe unlike any other voting bloc, where the Democratic support rate tends to be 90%-95%,” the memo read. The memo makes it clear that Bloomberg sees the effort as “a more cost-effective way of adding votes to the Democratic column than investing money to persuade voters who already have the right to vote.”
It is this memo, combined with Bloomberg’s fundraising, which has caught the ire of Florida’s Attorney General, Ashley Moody, who believes Bloomberg’s actions have violated Florida, if not Federal, law.
“When you look at the memo and what was alleged, when you hear words like ‘we need to get this done,’ investing money to targeted particular group of voters that may be predisposed to vote a certain way, that raises concerns that you are directly influencing or even indirectly giving money to persuade votes to go a certain way,” Moody told FOX News. “That doesn’t matter what party it is that triggers Florida law. Under Florida law, you cannot directly or indirectly give anything of value to persuade or entice a vote.”
Moody has written a letter asking the FBI and the Department of Justice to investigate Bloomberg’s actions and to take appropriate action regarding the prosecution of any election law violations perpetrated at Bloomberg’s hand and request.
BREAKING: Florida Attorney General orders investigation into @MikeBloomberg pledge to spend $16 million to allow convicted felons to vote in Florida. Comes after request from @GovRonDeSantis, a republican and Trump ally. #Election2020 pic.twitter.com/XgxGs53kut
— Jay O'Brien (@jayobtv) September 23, 2020
US Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), explained it further:
“[Under Florida law] it’s a third-degree felony for someone to either directly or indirectly provide something of value to impact whether or not someone votes. So, the question is whether or not paying off someone’s fines and legal obligations counts as something of value, and it clearly does. If Michael Bloomberg was offering to pay off people’s credit card debts, you would obviously see the value in that.
“When you improve someone’s net worth by eliminating their financial liabilities, that’s something of value. Normally, it would be very difficult to prove that that was directly linked to impacting whether or not someone was going to vote. But they literally wrote their own admission,” Gaetz said.