Speed Reads

Voting Rights

Michael Bloomberg raises $20 million to pay former felons' court debts to help Biden win Florida

Michael Bloomberg is once again setting his sights on Florida.

When ending his own Democratic presidential run, the billionaire and former New York City mayor pledged to do everything he could to help the eventual Democratic nominee. That has translated into $100 million to help Joe Biden win Florida and, as of Tuesday, a contribution toward efforts to restore former felons' voting rights in the state.

Florida passed a constitutional amendment in 2018 to restore voting rights to felons who had served their time, save for those charged with sexual assault or murder. But earlier this month, a court affirmed Floridians would have to pay off court fees and fines associated with their convictions to vote again. Around 1 million Floridians have former felony convictions, but hundreds of thousands are estimated to still have exorbitant fees left to pay off. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition had recently raised $5 million to pay off those fines. But Bloomberg, John Legend, and other fundraisers made big contributions that helped the group surpass $20 million as of Tuesday.

Bloomberg's fundraising comes a day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced a legislative package that would make it a felony to participate in a "violent or disorderly assembly," "obstruct traffic during an unpermitted protest," or "destroy or topple monuments," among other things.

The package is clearly aimed at ongoing protests against police brutality and systemic racism still happening across the U.S., and would strip those protesters' rights to vote this fall if they're charged with one of these felonies.