Former Democrat presidential candidate and billionaire Michael Bloomberg has reportedly raised over $16 million for convicted felons in Florida to register to vote.
Bloomberg’s fundraising, plus $5 million from the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, has reportedly paid off monetary obligations for 32,000 felons in Florida ahead of Election Day, Axios reported.
In 2018, Florida passed a law reinstating voting rights for felons that allowed them to register only after they pay all restitution, fees, and fines owed to the government, which often total more than $1,000. Last week, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law in a 6-4 ruling.
“The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and no American should be denied that right,” Bloomberg told Axios via a spokesperson. “Working together with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, we are determined to end disenfranchisement and the discrimination that has always driven it.”
“This announcement is a continuation of our legacy in both increasing voter access for young people, and also our continuing commitment to racial justice,” Vice President of Social Impact for ViacomCBS Erika Soto Lamb told WLRN-FM in Miami earlier this month. “The fines can range anywhere from $200 to more than $1,000. We have estimated that at least 1,250 people will be able to vote this year because of the contribution that we’re making.”
NBA stars Lebron James and Michael Jordan have each contributed $100,000 and $500,000 to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, respectively. MTV, VH1, and Comedy Central announced they would make a $250,000 donation to the effort.
“We need the money. That’s the bottom line. We’re absolutely excited whenever major players join in these efforts. It actually inspires many other folks to also want to join in,” said Angel Sanchez of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, according to The Hill.
Bloomberg has also endorsed Democrat nominee for President Joe Biden. The former vice president’s campaign has reportedly received at least $100 million in donations from Bloomberg.
Florida is an important state in the 2020 presidential race between incumbent President Donald Trump and Democrat candidate Joe Biden.
“The vote is being held hostage with poor folks, to see if you can get friends and family to pay this off,” Sanchez said. “And what we’re saying is that look: People’s vote matters so much that we’re gonna get friends, we’re gonna get family, we’re gonna get celebrities — we’re gonna get everyone we can to pay them off.”
The deadline for voter registration in Florida is October 5.