The following opinion-editorial written by submitted under Andrew Gillum‘s byline first appeared in the Tampa Bay Times on April 17th, 2019. Here, it has been heavily edited to remove all instances of shameful race-baiting and corrected with factual content. Gillum’s original text appears alongside The Capitolist’s corrections, edits and commentary. For additional background, read this fact check by the Orlando Sentinel.

Andrew Gillum: DeSantis, Legislature should is following voter intent on felons rights

Requiring full financial restitution before voting rights are automatically restored would mirror illegal poll taxes of earlier eras  is exactly what amendment backers told the Supreme Court would be required of felons.

Our democracy obligates lawmakers to listen to the people make difficult decisions based on the rule of law established by and our constitution. [Gillum proves he doesn’t understand the core concept of a representative republic in the opening line of his editorial. Sad.] Rarely in Florida history have these two institutions spoken more clearly than last election’s Amendment Four. [Editor: False premise based on a foundation of false claims Gillum is about to lay out].

This Amendment Four, which restoringes civil rights to most certain ex-felons, passed with 64.5 percent of the vote. It was a resounding, restorative rejection of a discriminatory clemency process rooted in racism and maintained by a state government unreflective of the elected by a majority of Floridians.

The amendment’s self-implementing language automatically [Editor: obviously false, or we wouldn’t be debating this issue. Note that a different amendment on that ballot, Amendment One, which was rejected by Florida voters, actually contained specific language that it was “self-executing” and didn’t require action by the legislature. Amendment Four contained no such language whatsoever.] was intended to restores civil rights to about 1.5 million Floridians all felons who have completed their court-ordered sentences — and more than 1 in 5 black citizens [Editor: irrelevant, disgusting race-baiting, sadly typical of Gillum’s political campaign from last year]. That should be the end of the story. [Editor: I could not agree more.]

However, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature haves not championed this historic moment. [Editor: the only reason Democrats view this as “historic” is because they believe it will shift the voter base in their favor and help them win elections in the future. To most voters, this wasn’t “historic,” it was merely the fair thing to do if a felon has paid his or her debt to society.] They’ve been obstructing its implementation or silent [Editor: Wrong, again. Florida’s elected leaders are doing their jobs, making sure that voters aren’t the victim of a blatant, politically motivated bait-and-switch tactic] — equally criminal. [Editor: Criminal? Really? I’m beginning to wonder if Mr. Gillum knows what actually constitutes criminal behavior. Taking bribes? Certainly. Following the law and the guidance provided to the Florida Supreme Court during hearings on the ballot language? Hardly]. 

While some, especially Democrat supervisors of elections all across our state opened the rolls to ex-felons almost immediately, lawmakers moved swiftly to prevent our newly redeemed citizens from participating in democracy Democrats from taking advantage of voters. They’ve resorted to the same tactics implemented in 1885 by Florida neo-confederates scared of the future and social equality — a poll tax. And make no mistake, that poll tax was effective in preventing minorities from participating in democracy and enriching our state for generations — and this one would be effective, too[Editor: Sigh. Typical race baiting. Typical Gillum].

By requiring full monetary restitution to be paid before civil rights are restored, lawmakers would be unconstitutionally burdening are holding reformed ex-felons accountable to complete their court-ordered sentence before attempting to participate in our society electoral process.

They would also be promoting monetary restitutions and felony convictions already notoriously unjust and unbalanced, protecting the privileged and damning the penniless[Editor: If Gillum wants to push for sentencing reform, he is free to do so. That would be consistent with his anti-law enforcement positions that came out during the 2018 campaign and likely played a role in his loss, but this is not the debate for that].

Lawmakers may believe their actions are victimless — but that’s only because they don’t know their victims it’s true. I do. They are our brothers and sisters. They are our neighbors. They are all of us[Editor: This is a pathetic attempt by Gillum at soaring political rhetoric, but it fails because it is built upon the false foundation that faceless lawmakers aren’t members of their own communities, don’t have family members, neighbors, friends or other people they care about who have been convicted of crimes. It’s hogwash. Pure nonsense. And frankly, it’s disgusting.]

No one should be judged forever by their worst day. [Editor: We agree!]

But you don’t need to be convinced. You’ve already made your voice heard. [Indeed. Florida voted to restore voting rights for all felons who have completed their court-ordered sentences, which, according to testimony by amendment sponsors, includes paying full restitution, fines, and court-ordered fees].

Gov. DeSantis has been taking bows following the pardoning of the Groveland Four — a long overdue pardon of innocent black men. It’s a nice gesture, but it’s also too late for those men and their families because recognizing racism and injustice decades late is not the same as righting it. That can only happen in the present [Editor: This awkward, irrelevant sentence is nothing more than an attempt by Gillum to sweep Governor DeSantis into the debate over implementation of Amendment 4. Deleted for irrelevance].

That’s why it’s time for Gov. DeSantis to lift his head and look around[Editor: More irrelevance].

The Florida Legislature is attempting to unconstitutionally condemn hundreds of thousands of Floridians to perpetual second-class status — ignoring the will of the same voters who elected our governor by a margin of error, the voters he’s supposed to be leading [Editor: Previously debunked argment]. 

Gov. DeSantis must recognizes that this poll tax is a threat to all of us, and his silence is being filled with a campaign against voters, against ex-felons and against our constitution issue is being overly politicized by race-baiting Democrats like me, and has wisely decided to let lawmakers do their jobs without wading into the fray.

As Frederick Douglass wrote, “Where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” [Editor: Lame attempt to invoke more identity politics. Deleted.]

Andrew Gillum, the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor and a former Tallahassee mayor, has committed to registering one million new voters in 2020, and he doesn’t care where they come from, as long as they vote Democrat.