Bloomberg raises $16 million to help ex-felons in Florida vote
Posted September 22, 2020 9:21 a.m. EDT
CNN — Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his political operation have raised more than $16 million from supporters and foundations over the last week to pay the court fines and fees for over 30,000 Black and Latino voters in Florida with felonies, allowing them to vote in the upcoming election.
The fundraising effort, according to multiple Bloomberg aides, will benefit the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, an organization run by formerly incarcerated people who are working to make it easier for ex-felons to vote.
"The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and no American should be denied that right," Bloomberg said. "Working together with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, we are determined to end disenfranchisement and the discrimination that has always driven it."
The Washington Post first reported on the effort.
Voters in Florida approved a constitutional amendment during the 2018 midterms that restored voting rights to more than a million people previously convicted of felonies, except those imprisoned for murder or sex offenses.
Republicans in the state passed and signed a subsequent law that required all former felons pay their outstanding debts, including court fees. The Supreme Court later upheld the law.
Bloomberg, after spending over $1 billion on a failed Democratic primary campaign, has committed to spend at least $100 million on helping Democratic nominee Joe Biden win Florida, a state central to President Donald Trump's electoral strategy.
The money for this effort did not come personally from the former New York mayor, and an aide said the money raised would not count against his plan to spend over $100 million in the state.