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It’s official: Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has reportedly called for a full investigation into billionaire Michael Bloomberg over allegations that he’d attempted to bribe convicted Florida felons into voting for Democrats come November.
In a letter sent this Wednesday to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Robert Swearingen and FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson of the bureau’s Tampa office, Moody reportedly wrote that her own preliminary analysis has led her to believe that a full-fledged investigation is necessary.
“After preliminarily reviewing this limited public information and law, it appears further investigation is warranted. Accordingly, I request that your agencies further investigate this matter and take appropriate steps as merited,” she wrote.
According to West Palm Beach station WFLX, state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Gov. Ron DeSantis have also called for an investigation.
“Reports that the failed presidential candidate is spending tens of millions of dollars on restitution for certain registered voters doesn’t smell right to me,” Patronis reportedly wrote to the Florida Elections Commission.
“Florida statute says that it’s a third-degree felony for someone to either directly or indirectly provide something of value to impact whether or not someone votes. So the question is whether or not paying off someone’s fines and legal obligations counts as something of value, and it clearly does,” he said.
“If Michael Bloomberg was offering to pay off people’s credit card debt, you would obviously see the value in that. So, when you improve someone’s net worth by eliminating their financial liabilities, that’s something of value.”
There may even be a criminal investigation already underway.
Law enforcement all over the country should be looking for the cheating Democrats are going to try in this election. pic.twitter.com/S5K5gl8lYt
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) September 23, 2020
His remarks were prompted by a stunning report in The Washington Post outlining how Bloomberg has raised over $16 million to help Florida convicts vote for Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden.
“Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg and his team have raised more than $16 million to pay the court fines and fees of nearly 32,000 Black and Hispanic Florida voters with felony convictions, an effort aimed at boosting turnout for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden,” the Post reported.
“The money will fund a program organized by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to pay the fines, fees and restitution costs for former prisoners who are already registered to vote in Florida but barred by law from participating in the election because of those outstanding debts.”
Despite the sketchy nature of these activities, members of the left have predictably begun hammering Florida officials for “going full Jim Crow,” as former Obama administration official Daniel Jacobson disingenuously put it.
See this and other dubious accusations below:
DeSantis going full Jim Crow here. https://t.co/N4OEOHyVIX
— Daniel Jacobson (@Dan_F_Jacobson) September 23, 2020
One of the potential charges is “offering incentives to vote”:
In other words, FL Republicans are admitting that they are requiring the payment of fines and fees from indigent people precisely to make it hard or impossible for them to vote. https://t.co/0gSQ8kmfae
— Jesse Wegman (@jessewegman) September 23, 2020
If you say people can’t vote until their debts are paid and then object to their debts being paid, you confirm that your true purpose was to prevent voting rather than to collect debt. https://t.co/lWXeMumdvH
— Matthew Segal (@segalmr) September 23, 2020
This is ludicrous. Florida is “vote selling” with its pay-to-vote system. Now they’re investigating those who satisfy their unconstitutional requirement by paying?!? https://t.co/kmL05TNfuO
— Julie Ebenstein (@JulesTwitted) September 23, 2020
But in her letter, Moody cited a specific legal precedent as her basis for wanting “further investigation.”
In an advisory opinion concerning “offering incentives to vote” issued in 2016, the Florida Division of Elections ruled that a political action committee may not offer money or gift cards to incentivize residents “simply to vote.”
“A political committee can only spend money to influence the results of an election. A political committee’s payment to an elector to vote could only be valid under chapter 106 if it were done to influence how that elector voted, which in turn would be illegal under §104.045 and §104.061. Therefore, a political committee could not lawfully make a valid expenditure to pay someone to vote,” the opinion reads.
Whether or not Bloomberg’s offer to pay the fees and fines of Florida convicts who may not vote until those fines are paid off counts as a “payment to an elector” remains unclear, which is why Moody and others are seeking an investigation.
Read Moody’s full letter below:
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