Bloomberg, which has committed at least $ 100 million to elect Biden to the state, raised money from individuals and foundations over the past week, his adviser said. He saw the donations as a more cost-effective way to add votes to the Democratic column than to invest money to convince voters who already have the right to vote, says a memo from Bloomberg.
“We have identified a significant voting share that requires a nominal investment,” the memo read. “The data shows that black voters in Florida are a unique universe unlike any other ballot box, where the democratic support level tends to be 90-95%.”
The memo noted that Biden voted worse among Cuban American voters than Hillary Clinton, the nominee in 2016, while he won other Spanish-speaking groups by a margin of 3 to 1.
The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is a non-partisan group that has raised money to return all former criminals in the state to the vote. Desmond Meade, the group’s president, said the group did not share Bloomberg’s goal of giving just one political side in the upcoming election.
“Different people can give for different reasons, but we’re in it for a reason and that’s the reason to put people above politics,” Meade said. “We are concerned about people from all walks of life, from all kinds of politics.”
He said his organization, through separate efforts, has raised about $ 7 million from about 44,000 donors to help pay off citizens’ debts with conviction so that they can return to the right to vote. The average debt, the group said, is about $ 1,000.
After being organized by the Meade group, Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment in 2018 that allowed former criminals, except those convicted of murder or crime, sexual offenses, to vote in upcoming elections. The Republican-controlled legislature then passed, and the Republican governor signed a law that conditioned their return to the ballot box on the payment of all fees, fines and refunds that were part of their punishment.
Subsequent court challenges upheld the legislature’s power to condition voting rights on the payment of debts from previous crimes. Judge Barbara Lagoa, who is being considered by President Trump as a possible replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, delivered a unanimous opinion on the 11th District Court, which upholds state law requiring the payment of debts.
The Republican effort is expected to limit the political benefit to Democrats of the constitutional change, which went through voting initiatives with 65 percent support. A study by the University of Florida showed that nearly 775,000 former criminals still owed money related to their beliefs and were to be banned from the polls by law. The vast majority are too poor to pay their outstanding debts, according to evidence presented in legal documents that challenge the law.
Several philanthropic groups, including a non-profit organization founded by professional basketball player LeBron James, have since made donations to pay the money owed. The Bloomberg effort, which his assistants said will be combined with about $ 5 million already raised by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, is narrowly focused only on black and Hispanic voters who are already registered to vote and whose debts are less than $ 1,500. .
Bloomberg’s advisers identified the group as both likely to vote for Biden and more likely to vote than other groups of former criminals.
“Mike wanted this done for two reasons,” said a Bloomberg adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. “One, because it is the right thing to do for democracy. And two, because it immediately activates tens of thousands of voters who are inclined to vote for Joe Biden. ”
Bloomberg’s aides said the former New York mayor, who is worth more than $ 50 billion, had raised the money for this work from others and that the sum would not count toward the $ 100 million or more he has personally committed to spend for Biden State.
The Bloomberg memo pointed out that the 31,790 targeted voters, including 25,548 who are black, almost equal the margin by which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won the 2018 election, and about three times the margin that Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) Elected The same year.
It said Florida voters have largely already decided on the November election, leaving “only a small margin of voters who are the target of persuasion.”
“We know we are going to win Florida, we need to persuade, motivate and add new voices to the Biden column,” the document read. “That means we have to explore all the ways to find the votes needed when so many votes have already been cast.”
Meade said his group would be responsible for spending the money raised by Bloomberg, and will continue to raise money to get more Floridians convinced of the crime.
“No person really dictates how we work,” he said.