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Influence

Voter restoration amendment backers spend another $1.8M on ads

The committee sponsoring the “Voting Restoration Amendment,” which would restore voting rights to Florida felons who have completed their sentences, spent more than $1.8 million of its reserves pushing the proposal on the airwaves, online and via direct mail between Oct. 6 and Oct. 12.

Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which led the drive to get Amendment 4 on the ballot, received just $113,600 in contributions during the weekly reporting period with nearly all of it coming in via a $100,000 check from ex-hedge fund manager Michael Novogratz.

The bulk of the action in the new report was found on its expenditure sheet, which showed nearly $1.81 million in spending. Topping the ledger was a $1 million media buy through Screen Strategies Media, followed by a $400,000 digital ad buy through Mercury Public Affairs and another $400,000 payment for direct mailers from Mission Control.

The $1.8 million spent by Floridians for a Fair Democracy was augmented by nearly $150,000 worth of “in-kind” contributions, including a $112,000 digital ad buy from ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s, which has been pitching in on the Amendment 4 effort for weeks, and another $11,000 or so in printing via Organize Florida.

Floridians for a Fair Democracy set up shop in 2014 but didn’t begin raising money in earnest until after the 2016 general election. Since then, it has reeled in more than $17.7 million in contributions, with about a quarter of those funds coming from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The committee had $3.58 million left in the tank on Oct. 12.

Overall, there are about 1.7 million convicted felons in the Sunshine State. Amendment 4 would restore voting rights to the vast majority of those individuals with the only carveouts being felons convicted of sex offenses or murder. Constitutional amendments must earn 60 percent of the vote to pass, and recent polling shows Amendment 4 on track to pass with 71 percent support.

The current voting rights restoration system requires felons to wait up to seven years after their conviction to apply for restoration, which is handled on a case-by-case basis by the Governor and Cabinet.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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