Florida attorney general asks for investigation of Bloomberg's efforts to reinstate felon voting rights
Posted September 23, 2020 9:07 p.m. EDT
CNN — Florida's attorney general has requested that the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigate Michael Bloomberg's efforts to reinstate the voting rights of felons by paying their fees, according to a letter provided to CNN by the attorney general's office.
Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody said she requested that the agencies investigate "potential violations of election laws."
Bloomberg, a former New York mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, 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 more than 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.
"This transparent political ploy is just the latest example of Republicans attempting to keep Floridians disenfranchised," Jason Schechter, a Bloomberg spokesperson, told CNN.
The attorney general said Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' office had asked her to review the matter. DeSantis' office has not yet responded to CNN's request for comment.
Voters in Florida approved a constitutional amendment during the 2018 midterm elections that restored voting rights to more than a million people previously convicted of felonies, excluding those imprisoned for murder or sex offenses.
Republican officials in the state passed and signed a subsequent law that required all former felons to pay their outstanding debts, including court fees. The US Supreme Court later upheld the law.
The FBI Field Office in Tampa said it has "not officially received the letter." But "standard policy is not to confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation," a FBI spokesperson Andrea Aprea told CNN.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that it has received the letter and "will review the information," Jeremy Burns told CNN.