Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has raised more than $16 million so that convicted felons in Florida can vote in the presidential election, CBS Miami reported Tuesday.
According to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), Bloomberg has already paid off the monetary obligations for some 32,000 felons.
The Florida Rights Restitution Council had raised about $5 million before Bloomberg made calls to raise almost $17 million more, according to Bloomberg advisers, who weren’t authorized to speak on the record because the announcement hadn’t been made yet.
In total, more than $20 million has been raised to help felons who have completed their prison sentences vote in the presidential election.
Bloomberg’s generous move comes just days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won a court victory to keep convicts from voting until they’ve paid off fines, restitution and court fees.
Florida passed a law in 2018 reinstating voting rights for felons, but it required felons to pay off pay all debts owed to the government before they could register.
The law was challenged in court and Florida’s 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week ruled to uphold the measure.
The money is targeted for felons who registered to vote while the law was in question and who owe $1,500 or less. That accounts for about 31,100 people, Bloomberg advisers say. In a state that decided the 2000 presidential election by 537 votes, that could be critical in a year when polls show Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in a dead heat.
“The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and no American should be denied that right,” a Bloomberg spokesperson said. “Working together with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, we are determined to end disenfranchisement and the discrimination that has always driven it.”
Bloomberg—whom President Trump derisively nicknamed “mini Mike” when he ran in the Democratic primary—has endorsed Joe Biden, and recently pledged to donate at least $100 million to help the former vice president’s campaign in Florida.
Organizers for the FRRC said they aren’t targeting people registered with any particular political party.
“To hell with politics, to hell with any other implications or inuations, at the end of the day it’s about real people, real lives, American citizens who want to be a part of this,” said Desmond Meade, the group’s executive director. “People with felony convictions have had their voices silenced for so long.”
Other donors to the group reportedly include John Legend, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Ben & Jerry’s, Levi Strauss & Co., the Miami Dolphins, the Orlando Magic, the Miami Heat and Stephen Spielberg.
While the FRRC can be taken at their word that they have no political agenda, Democrats—who vilify law enforcement while pushing the felon vote—are a different story—and they may end up regretting their stance on the issue.
According to a recent prison survey, President Trump is surprisingly popular with convicts.
In a first-of-its-kind political survey of the incarcerated, The Marshall Project and Slate found that a significant share of white respondents called themselves Republicans and would vote to reelect Trump in 2020—if given the chance. Forty-five percent of white respondents backed Trump, about 30 percent picked among Democratic candidates, and the remaining 25 percent said they did not know or would not vote.
Only 45 percent of black prisoners identified as Democrats, with 29 percent identifying as independent and 11 percent Republican.