Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg has dropped out of the presidential race in March. However, his monetary investments to stop Trump from being reelected are far from over. After officially endorsing Joe Biden for President, Bloomberg has pledged to spend $100 million in Florida. This comes in an effort to turn the critical swing state blue in 2020.
Now, Bloomberg has donated $16 million to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC). This coalition was established as a nonprofit in 2018. FRRC set up a “fees and fines” fund to help people pay their court debts. The said fund allows felons to regain their voting rights.
Governor Ron DeSantis asked fellow Republican, Attorney General Ashley Moody to review the massive donation. It was made just two weeks prior to Florida’s deadline for voter registration. Moody has contacted the FBI and state authorities, requesting a full investigation.
“After preliminarily reviewing this limited public information and law, it appears further investigation is warranted,” Moody wrote in a letter to Michael McPherson, the FBI special agent in charge of the bureau’s Tampa office, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Richard Swearingen. “Accordingly, I request that your agencies further investigate the matter and take appropriate steps as merited.”
Is Bloomberg Giving Direct Cash to Voters?
In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment ending the state’s lifetime ban on voting for most former prisoners. But the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature passed a law that requires felons to pay off any outstanding court debts. This rule serves as a requirement before they can become eligible. An estimated 775,000 felons still owe some form of fees, fines or restitution.
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After a fierce legal battle, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month upheld the law on a 6-4 vote. The court handed a significant victory to Gov. DeSantis and the Legislature. Prior to the Appeals Court ruling, FRRC had raised about $4 million to help felons pay their legal fees. The money also helped them regain their right to vote. Following the ruling, that number jumped to $20 million, due largely in part to Bloomberg’s donation.
Desmond Meade, executive director of the FRRC, avoided questions on Wednesday of whether or not the hefty donation from Bloomberg could be of issue with the new state election law.
Neil Volz, the FRRC’s deputy director, said the group has already paid off fines and fees for nearly 5,000 people. The infusion of new donations may lead to 20,000 people having their legal financial obligations paid off.
Florida Democrats Desperately Need the Votes
This story is another good reminder that all the social-media screaming in the world doesn't make a difference if it's not matched by action.
"Florida Democrats aimed to register 1 million voters by now. They didn’t come close."https://t.co/6cPGy8XnZR
— Scott Maxwell (@Scott_Maxwell) August 8, 2020
Florida Democrats had a goal to register or “re-engage” 1 million voters between 2018 and 2020, but they have fallen extremely short of that goal. Bloomberg’s efforts to buy 20,000 new voters is a calculated move.
When former President Barack Obama first won Florida in 2008, the final months of his campaign saw an advantage of more than 500,000 registered Democratic voters. That lead had dropped to about 259,000 in 2016, when Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Florida by 112,000 votes.
Data posted online by the Florida Division of Elections showed that, as of July 20, when books closed on eligible voters for the Aug. 18 primary, Democrats led Republicans in the state by 240,423 people.
Both parties have added about 500,000 voters since 2016.
There are an estimated 4 million eligible, unregistered voters in Florida, as well as 3,622,236 voters registered without party affiliation. This leaves Florida up in the air going into the November election. It will all come down to which group elects to vote, but Republicans are optimistic.
“The voter intensity on our side is through the roof. I’m walking door to door across the state and the love this president has is off the charts,” said Joe Gruters, the Republican Party of Florida chairman. “There’s no question that our voters are going to show up.”