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Florida AG pushes for federal and state investigations of Bloomberg payment

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody says an investigation is necessary into former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to pay off court fines for convicted felons so they can vote on Nov. 3.

Under a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2018, convicted felons in Florida can have their voting rights restored once they complete their sentence. Subsequently, state Republican lawmakers, over the objections of liberals, added language to the law that included fines, court fees and restitution costs as part of a felon’s sentence.

A Bloomberg-led group recently raised $16 million to pay such costs for 32,000 felons. In a recent interview with conservative host Glenn Beck, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, said all of the recipients were Black or Hispanic. 

Appearing on Fox News Channel on Thursday, Moody said a memo released by Bloomberg indicated that he intended to pay the fines solely to garner votes for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

“When you look at the memo and what was alleged, when you hear words like we need to get this done, investing money to a targeted particular group of voters that may be predisposed to vote a certain way, that raises concerns that you are directly influencing or even indirectly giving money to persuade votes to go a certain way,” Moody, a Republican, said on “Fox & Friends.”

“That doesn’t matter what party it is that triggers Florida law. Under Florida law, you cannot directly or indirectly give anything of value to persuade or entice a vote,” she added.

In the memo in question, Bloomberg wrote, “We know to win Florida we will need to persuade, motivate and add new votes to the Biden column.” He added, “This means we need to explore all avenues for finding the needed votes when so many votes are already determined.”

Florida state election laws say, in part, “No person shall directly or indirectly give or promise anything of value to another intending thereby to buy that person’s or another’s vote or to corruptly influence that person or another in casting his or her vote. Any person who violates this subsection is guilty of a felony of the third degree.” Third-degree felonies in Florida are punishable by up to five years in prison. 

Moody has asked both the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Bloomberg’s activities.

PHOTO: Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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