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Election Politics

Gaetz calls for criminal probe of Bloomberg for paying $20 million to ex-cons who support Biden

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Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is calling for a criminal investigation into the former Democrat presidential candidate, billionaire Mike Bloomberg, for a program that paid $20 million in direct compensation to ex-convicts who are avowed Biden supporters for fines and other fees owed due to their convictions. Bloomberg called the practice “more cost-effective” than getting other voters to vote in Florida.

“[Under Florida law] 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. If Michael Bloomberg was offering to pay off people’s credit card debts, you would obviously see the value in that,” Gaetz said according to the New York Post.  

Under Florida law, felons can have their right to vote reinstated as long as they have served their term and paid the fines and fees associated with a conviction.

Gaetz says that he thinks that there is already an investigation underway by the state of Florida into the practice.

“When you improve someone’s net worth by eliminating their financial liabilities, that’s something of value. Normally, it would be very difficult to prove that that was directly linked to impacting whether or not someone was going to vote. But they literally wrote their own admission,” the Florida Republican added.

The Bloomberg effort, it’s been widely reported, has been working with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition which has already registered the former fe lons to vote, but they are prevented from voting as they had not yet made restitution.

Bloomberg, in a memo obtained by the New York Post, said that paying the fines and fees for the cons is “a more cost-effective way of adding votes to the Democratic column than investing money to persuade voters who already have the right to vote.”

“We have identified a significant vote share that requires a nominal investment. The data shows that in Florida, Black voters are a unique universe unlike any other voting bloc, where the Democratic support rate tends to be 90%-95%,” the memo read.

Gaetz says that what makes the case particularly worrisome is that the ballot harvesting with felons is targeted just at ex-cons who are avowed Biden voters.

“It’s not every felon. It’s just those which they have specifically identified as the Biden voters,” Gaetz told Lou Dobbs. “That’s offering a bribe, an inducement, for someone to behave a certain way in voting.” He added that this isn’t just advertising money protected by the First Amendment, but acts that are specifically forbidden under the law as vote-buying.  

Bloomberg has said that he will spend up to $100 million to help Biden win Florida’s 29 electoral votes.

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