(The Center Square) – Florida’s Republican leaders have called for investigations into the $17 million raised by former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s campaign to pay the fines for 32,000 felons so they can vote in the November election.
Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch founder Larry Klayman, who has a colorful 30-year record of filing lawsuits and once sued his mother, has joined the fray – by suing.
Klayman filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Leon County’s 2nd Judicial Circuit against Bloomberg, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), the Biden for President organization, the Biden Victory Fund and the Florida Department of State.
The lawsuit calls the donation a “scheme to induce convicted felons to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for president and vice-president” and requests an immediate hearing and declaratory judgment “barring this illicit plan from going forward.”
With the deadline to register to vote in Florida on Monday, it’s unlikely the lawsuit will be heard in time to prevent felons from using the money to vote.
"The dilution of my vote and the vote of Florida citizens by illegal means must not be permitted,” Klayman said. “The multibillionaire Bloomberg and the Biden campaign are not above the law. They must have their nefarious wings clipped and held to account."
Klayman, a former U.S. Justice Department prosecutor, has sued Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, among others, since the 1990s. He has filed lawsuits on behalf of victims of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, the Taliban and al-Qaida and won a $1.7 million judgment against Fidel Castro in 2005.
Klayman sued his mother in 1998, claiming she refused to pay him back $50,000 he spent on private nurses for his grandmother, her mother.
In 2012, Klayman challenged Barack Obama's placement on Florida’s primary ballot, claiming the president was not a natural born citizen. In 2014, he requested the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) begin deportation proceedings against Obama.
While Klayman can be dismissed as a litigative “Tea Party gadfly,” U.S. Rep Matt Gaetz and other Republicans said his lawsuit is one of many legal actions that will be prompted by the Florida donation and alleged actions elsewhere by the Biden campaign.
"Law enforcement all over the country should be looking for the cheating Democrats are going to try in this election,” Gaetz tweeted, noting his call for a state investigation has been heard by Attorney General Ashley Moody.
Moody "is all over the [Bloomberg]-connected activities. There may even be a criminal investigation already underway,” Gaetz tweeted.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis requested Moody investigate. Moody asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and federal agencies to probe allegations Bloomberg and the FRRC violated the law by offering incentives for voting.
Bloomberg announced earlier this month his political organization raised at least $17 million to pay court fines for felons, allowing them to vote.
The money was directed to the FRRC, which had raised about $5 million to pay felons’ fines to that point.
Nearly 65 percent of Florida voters in November 2018 approved Amendment 4, which restored voting rights for felons, excluding those convicted of murder and sexual assault, after “completing sentences.”
In 2019, the Florida Legislature adopted “enabling legislation” that interpreted “completing sentences” to mean paying fees, fines and restitution, spurring a legal battle that culminated in May, when U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle declared it unconstitutional.
The U.S. 11th Circuit, however, upheld Florida’s law Sept. 11. The case will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The FRRC is allocating the money to felons who owe $1,500 or less, particularly those among the 80,000-plus who registered before September’s ruling.