TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – State law-enforcement officials have moved from a “review” phase into an “information gathering process” as they look into former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg helping Florida felons pay outstanding legal costs so they could register to vote.

“In a preliminary inquiry – where we are now – we start to obtain documents and conduct research,” Gretl Plessinger, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman, said in an email Thursday. “A case moves into a full investigation when a criminal predicate has been established — verified information that reasonably indicates a crime may have occurred. Currently no criminal predicate has been established.”

No timeline has been set for the investigation. Attorney General Ashley Moody, acting upon a request from Gov. Ron DeSantis, asked for the investigation on Sept.  23 after Bloomberg raised at least $16 million for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.

Bloomberg has vowed to pump more than $100 million into Florida to assist Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential bid, and Moody contends the assistance to the coalition could be a violation of laws against offering incentives to people or groups in exchange for voting in a particular manner.

The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition has collected more than $20 million for a “Fines and Fees” fund established in response to a state law and a recent court ruling requiring felons to pay “legal financial obligations” – fees, fines, costs and restitution – to be eligible to vote.

Democrats have labeled the investigation request political theater.

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