UPDATE: After reviewing relevant state election law, Ashley Moody, the Attorney General for the State of Florida, sent a joint letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement requesting further investigation into Michael Bloomberg’s actions reported below. Moody claims Bloomberg’s actions appear to violate Florida Statute DE 16-02, which states it is illegal to “directly or indirectly give or promise anything of value to another in casting his or her vote.”
Billionaire media mogul and recent Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has raised $16.1 million to pay off state legal fees and fines owed by some 32,000 convicted Florida felons so they can vote in the upcoming Presidential election. Florida passed a ballot initiative in 2018 allowing felons in the Sunshine State to vote, but only after they satisfied the terms of their punishment, including having fully paid all their fines, court fees and restitution. A New York Times op/ed baldly referred to the effort as “This Is How Bloomberg Can Help Biden Win Florida.”
John Stemberger, President of the Florida Family Policy Council, has strong words for the New Yorker’s efforts, “[Florida law] says it is a felony to offer something of value to someone to vote. This is precisely what Bloomberg is doing.” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is currently evaluating options into a formal investigation of Bloomberg’s actions. Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz (R) accuse the billionaire of vote buying and has called for an investigation. Gaetz told Lou Dobbs on his Fox Business cable news show, “It’s not every felon. It’s just those which they have specifically identified as the Biden voters.” He added, “This is a specific inducement to a specific segment of voters to get them to vote a certain way, and I think it could be a crime.”
New York magazine wildly claims the Florida law requiring felons to satisfy the totality of their punishment in order to vote is literally a poll tax. Stemberger says this is a wholly dishonest presentation of the law. “Felons have no right to vote in Florida, that is the law.” “However,” he adds, “the Florida constitution creates an exception and now allows felons the opportunity to restore their right to vote by completing ‘all terms’ of their sentence.” Stemberger, a lawyer, explains this includes the requirement to fully pay all fees, fines and restitution required of the offender.
Floridapolitics.com reports that others have made similar contributions to help targeted Florida felons vote in the upcoming election. These include singer John Legend, Stephen Spielberg, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Ben & Jerry’s, Levi Strauss & Co., the Miami Dolphins, the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat.