Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody reportedly sent a letter to the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement requesting a criminal investigation into a recent report that failed Democrat presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire, has raised more than $16 million to help convicted felons pay off their debts in an attempt to boost Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden in the state.
“The letter said that Moody’s office had reviewed Bloomberg’s pledge and referred the matter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI for a criminal investigation,” CBS 12 reported. “Moody’s letter references Florida’s statute against paying for votes, referencing a Florida Department of State finding that said ‘even an otherwise innocuous offering of an incentive simply to vote can run afoul’ of state election law.”
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Bloomberg and his team had raised the money “to pay the court fines and fees of nearly 32,000 Black and Hispanic Florida voters with felony convictions, an effort aimed at boosting turnout for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.”
The Post added that “Bloomberg’s advisers identified that group as both likely to vote for Biden and more likely to vote than other groups of former felons.”
The letter from the Florida Attorney General’s office added the following statement from the Florida Department of State, Division of Elections, which came in response to an inquiry by a political committee:
Even other innocuous offering of an incentive simply to vote could run afoul of section 104.045 or section 104.061, or both, depending upon the circumstances involved. That is, incentives could be offered to a voter in a way that would be designed to directly or indirectly cause the voter or a larger group of voters to vote in a particular manner. In such a case, the person giving the incentive could be guilty of violating section 104.061, Florida Statutes, which makes it illegal to “directly or indirectly give or promise anything of value to another in casting his or her vote.”
An adviser to Bloomberg told The Washington Post that one of the reasons that Bloomberg wanted to do this was because “it immediately activates tens of thousands of voters who are predisposed to vote for Joe Biden.”
After listing off various statutes that may apply to the case, the letter concluded by asking the agencies to launch an investigation into Bloomberg’s actions.
“After preliminarily reviewing this limited public information and law, it appears further investigation is warranted,” the letter concluded. “Accordingly, I request that your agencies further investigate this matter and take appropriate steps as merited.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has appeared on several Fox News shows over the last 24 hours where he has called for an investigation to be opened into the matter.
Gaetz said, “This is a specific inducement, to a specific segment of voters, to get them to vote a certain way, and I think it could be a crime.”
This story has been updated to include additional information.