Florida AG requests FBI investigate Bloomberg for possible criminal activity in pledge to pay felons' fines so they can vote

by Laura Mize · Sep 24th, 2020 1:19 pm
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Florida Office of the Attorney General

Last Updated Sep 25th, 2020 at 6:13 pm

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has sent a letter to the FBI, requesting the bureau look into whether former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg violated state law by paying felons' fees and court fines, freeing them up to vote in the November election.

Bloomberg raised $16 million for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition in order to pay the fees for roughly 32,000 felons so they could regain voting rights.

Moody also sent the request to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Florida law prohibits paying for votes and other measures to entice people to vote, according to an analysis from the state's Division of Elections.

The analysis reads:

"Even other innocuous offering of an incentive simply to vote could run afoul of section 104.045 or section 104.061, or both, depending upon the circumstances involved. That is, incentives could be offered to a voter in a way that would be designed to directly or indirectly cause the voter or a larger group of voters to vote in a particular manner. In such a case, the person giving the incentive could be guilty of violating section 104.061, Florida Statutes, which makes it illegal to 'directly or indirectly give or promise anything of value to another in casting his or her vote.'"

The Washington Post reported that Bloomberg's offer specifically targeted black and Hispanic felons because his advisers have determined these people are more likely to vote than other felons and are likely to vote for Biden. An unnamed source told the Post that Bloomberg's motives are twofold:

"One, because it's the right thing to do for the democracy," the person said. "And two, because it immediately activates tens of thousands of voters who are predisposed to vote for Joe Biden."

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told Fox News Bloomberg's payment is "politically motivated."

"In Florida you only get to vote if you're a convicted felon if all of your court costs, fines, fees, and restitution are paid off, and so what Michael Bloomberg is doing is creating a politically motivated way to retire the debts of these felons in exchange for their votes. And it's not every felon; it's just those which they have specifically identified as the Biden voters. And so again, that's offering a bribe, an inducement, for someone to behave a certain way in voting. I think it's potentially criminal."

Moody's letter says that "it appears further investigation is warranted."


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