Last week, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Florida's law requiring convicted felons in Florida to pay court-ordered fines, fees and restitution before having their voting rights reinstated. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, together with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, has "paid off monetary obligations for 32,000 felons in Florida" so that they can vote. Pictured: The Elbert P. Tuttle U.S. Court of Appeals Building, home of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Image source: Warren LeMay/Wikimedia Commons)
Last week, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Florida's law requiring convicted felons in Florida to pay court-ordered fines, fees and restitution before having their voting rights reinstated. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who raised more than $16 million for this purpose, has, together with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, "paid off monetary obligations for 32,000 felons in Florida" so that they can vote.
Those are 32,000 votes deemed pro-Biden in a state where 537 votes decided the presidential election in 2000. Florida, a critical swing state, has 29 electoral college votes that could determine the presidency.
The organization Bloomberg is working with in this reinstatement effort is the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC). The FRRC has received an unspecified amount of funding from the Open Society Foundations (OSF). There isn't a specific grant listed in the OSF's 2018 Internal Revenue Service filing, but it identified FRRC as a grantee in an April 2019 Facebook post.
FRRC's partners include the Alliance for Safety and Justice, which is a project of Tides Foundation -- a public charity and financial supporter working to advance "progressive" causes and policy initiatives -- and received $1.2 million from the Open Society Foundations between 2016 and 2018. At present, there is no publicly available documentary connection with George Soros' Safety and Justice PAC, a Florida affiliate.
It is informative to examine the other organizations involved in supporting the objectives of Bloomberg and his colleagues at the FRRC. Other FRRC partners include:
- The Center for Community Change, received $2.1 million from OSF in 2016 and 2017.
- Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which received $700,000 from OSF in 2017.
- Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, which received $410,000 from OSF between 2016 and 2018.
- Live Free, a social justice project of Faith in Action. Faith in Action received $3.1 million from OSF between 2017 and 2018, and
- The Leadership Conference of Civil and Human Rights, which has received more than $7.3 million from OSF since 2016.
The president of the FRCC, Desmond Meade, is also the chair of the Floridians for a Fair Democracy PAC, which has received significant financial support from the Brennan Center, the ACLU, New Ventures Fund, the Advocacy Fund, the Tides Foundation, Organize Florida and other Soros-funded entities, as well as numerous liberal mega-donors. It has also received funding from the FRRC and the Alliance for Safety and Justice. (Florida's campaign finance database is not particularly user-friendly, but the full list of contributors is there.).
Perhaps this is just one example of "democracy in action?" Perhaps it is not? One is left to wonder about what appears to be a slick, well-financed, lawyered-up, manipulation of the electoral process. It appears to have less to do with a legitimate, grassroots campaign to rehabilitate persons who have paid their legal dues for past misconduct than it does as a cynical, orchestrated, vote buying and manipulation process. Nothing illegal, of course! Just the opposite -- perhaps hyper-legal -- in a way that manipulates the law and the process in ways the Left is most comfortable with when winning is all that counts.
Chris Farrell is a former counterintelligence case officer. For the past 20 years, he has served as the Director of Investigations & Research for Judicial Watch. The views expressed are the author's alone, and not necessarily those of Judicial Watch.