In the 2018 midterm, more than 1.5 million Floridians regained the right to vote when a successful ballot initiative reversed a Jim Crow–era law by restoring access to the ballot to ex-felons.  But the largest act of enfranchisement since the passage of the 26th Amendment was largely blocked by Florida Republicans as they passed legislation in 2019 which requires these new voters to pay off any court fines and fees related to their offenses before they can register to vote.

That measure, more commonly referred to as a poll tax, was overturned earlier this year by a federal judge who noted the “racial impact” of the GOP-written law.  But the poll tax was reinstated earlier this month by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on a 6-4 ruling, featuring a vote in the majority from Barbara Lagoa, a potential Supreme Court candidate who the president is reportedly meeting with on Friday.

Now, at the end of this judicial back-and-forth, 430,000 Florida residents who were granted access to the ballot by a majority of their peers in November 2018 may not be able to vote in November 2020.  

Enter Michael Bloomberg: On Tuesday, the billionaire announced that his political operation had raised over $16.1 million in the past week to pay off court fines and fees for 32,000 Black and Latino ex-felons in Florida, allowing them to register for the upcoming election before the deadline of October 5.

“The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and no American should be denied that right,” Bloomberg said in a statement.  “Working together with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), we are determined to end disenfranchisement and the discrimination that has always driven it.”  The FRRC has raised an additional $4 million in the ten days since the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the functional poll tax.

The announcement comes a little over a week after Bloomberg pledged $100 million of his own money to help Joe Biden win in Florida by boosting his advertising among the crucial swing state’s Latino voters.  “The alarming revelation that anti-gun-rights Bloomberg is going to spend this $100 million in Florida, to guarantee that the important swing state goes to Democrat Joe Biden, is proof the former vice president is bought and paid for,” says Second Amendment Foundations’ (SAF) Alan Gottlieb. 

Gottlieb also said, “Biden and Bloomberg are anti-gun elitists who have always enjoyed armed protection while dismissing the needs of average citizens to protect to protect themselves and their families.  Biden better get used to dancing on the ends of Bloomberg’s strings, because for this amount of money, the Delaware Democrat is going to be the Big Apple billionaire’s puppet.  Biden plans to change the Bill of Rights, and Bloomberg plans to buy it.” 

“Joe Biden is a perennial gun prohibitionist and Bloomberg is opening his wallet to essentially buy the Sunshine State vote on Biden’s behalf,” continued Gottlieb.  “It is clear to us the former New York mayor thinks the former vice president will do his bidding, otherwise he wouldn’t be making such an expensive investment.”

“During his 47 years on Capitol Hill, and as Barack Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden has never met a gun restriction he hasn’t liked,” Gottlieb observed.  “His promise to continue supporting Draconian gun control schemes should be ample payback to Bloomberg, who dislikes the idea of private gun ownership worse than Biden does.

“Considering Biden’s gun control agenda and his promise to purse a restrictive gun grabbing crusade if he wins in November,” says Gottilieb, “there should be no doubt Joe is a 100% certified shill for Bloomberg and his gun prohibition lobbying groups.  We plan to challenge in court all of their unconstitutional anti-gun schemes,”Gottlieb vowed.

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