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GOP-led legal inquest into Bloomberg helping Florida felons vote condemned as attempted voter suppression

September 27, 2020 in Blogs

By Independent Media Institute

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s call for state and federal investigations into billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s effort to raise millions to pay off court fees to help Florida felons restore their voting rights was a “gross abuse” of power, “voter suppression,” “a fearmongering tactic used before” and based on a “fundamental misconception” of anti-corruption laws, according to experienced campaign lawyers and former federal election regulators.

“It’s not just that an investigative process and grand jury proceedings would likely extend past Election Day, but also that we’ve seen this fearmongering tactic used before,” said Jonathan Diaz, legal counsel at the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C., founded by Trevor Potter, a Republican and ex-Federal Election Commission (FEC) chair. “There are countless examples of elected officials or law enforcement announcing ‘bombshell’ investigations like this with no evidence of actual wrongdoing (for example, recently in Texas and Georgia) and indeed, no actual conclusions that any misconduct has taken place.”

It’s “outrageous and likely an extortionate threat designed to suppress the vote and deny citizens their constitutional right to vote,” said Benedict Kuehne, the Miami attorney whose team recently won a settlement to save digital images of ballots if there’s a presidential election recount. “Not at all unexpected. But still an abuse of power.”

The fray is the latest development in one of the nation’s most important voting rights battles. Two years ago, a majority of Floridians approved Amendment 4, which restored voting rights for nearly 1.4 million former felons. Florida’s Republican-led state government responded by passing laws and going to court to impede the rights’ restoration, mainly by requiring former felons to pay off all court fees and fines before being eligible to register to vote.

As legal battles are continuing in the courts—where delays mean that these Floridians won’t necessarily be eligible to vote this fall unless they pay fees that typically are between $500 and $5,000—many celebrities and philanthropists have been making donations to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), which led the Amendment 4 campaign, to help pay the fees.

The FRRC raised about $6 million in the past year for that effort, the Miami Herald reported, noting that celebrities …read more


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