Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody requested a state and federal investigation into efforts by Michael Bloomberg to rais $16 million to pay legal fines and fees allowing felons in the state to vote. File Photo by UPI | License Photo
Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody called for an investigation into donations from Michael Bloomberg to pay off legal fines and fees for felons in the state to allow them to vote in November's election.
Moody sent a letter to the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Wednesday requesting a probe into Bloomberg's efforts to raise $16 million along with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition for about 32,000 former prisoners who owed less than $1,500 in fees and had already registered to vote.
In the letter, Moody states that Gov. Ron DeSantis asked her to look into the matter and also copied Florida prosecutor Nick Cox and U.S. attorney Maria Lopez.
The letter cites a Washington Post article detailing Bloomberg's fundraising efforts, including a memo stating his team had "identified a significant vote share that requires a nominal investment."
"After preliminarily reviewing this limited public information and law, it appears further investigation is warranted," Moody wrote. "Accordingly, I request your agencies further investigate this matter and take appropriate steps as merited."
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., initially raised the possibility of an investigation in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday.
"It is a felony [under Florida statute] for someone to either directly or indirectly offer something of value to impact whether or not someone votes," Gaetz said. "You have the question of whether or not paying someone restitution and court costs constitutes something of value."
Florida voters passed a measure in 2018 to restore voting rights to people who have been convicted of some crimes, excluding murder and sexual offenses, but an appeals court earlier this month upheld a measure passed in the state legislature requiring felons to pay any outstanding fines and fees before being allowed to vote.
Bloomberg spokesman Jason Schechter condemned Moody's investigation.
"This transparent political ploy is just the latest example of Republicans attempting to keep Floridians disfranchised," Schechter said.