Convicted felons should have an easier time regaining the right to vote, according to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Putnam, an ambitious Republican politician who many believe is the front-runner for the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election, shared his concerns about convicted felons’ voting rights in an interview Friday with the liberal Tampa Bay Times.
Under Florida law, the Florida governor and his or her cabinet oversee convicted felons’ requests to have their voting rights restored. Former Gov. Charlie Crist restored nearly 40,000 convicted felons’ voting right during his first year in office, while current Gov. Rick Scott restored less than 100 during his first year in office.
“I don’t think that going all the way back to full, automatic restoration is the way to go,” Putnam told the Times. “But for certain classes of crimes, I think an expedited restoration process is appropriate. For more violent classes of crimes, I think they should still have to come before us.”
The voting rights activist group Who Can Vote, funded by the leftist front groups Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, highlighted the sort of non-violent convicted felon for whom Putnam would like to more quickly and easily restore voting rights. In a feature article on Florida’s voting restrictions regarding convicted felons, Who Can Vote touted a crack cocaine dealer who served time in federal prison. After release from federal prison, the crack cocaine dealer became a writer advocating leftist political causes. Who Can Vote championed the crack cocaine dealer as the sort of non-violent convicted felon who should more easily regain voting rights.
Putnam’s advocacy for convicted felons continues a longstanding track record of championing leftist causes. Liberal establishment Republicans worked behind the scenes last year touting Putnam as a potential primary opponent for Scott in the 2014 gubernatorial elections. Putnam’s long history of tacking left on issues such as prescription drug entitlements, renewable energy subsidies, cash for clunkers, and the Obama stimulus endeared him to liberal establishment Republicans and the Florida media who felt Scott was too conservative for Florida. The extremely liberal Tampa Bay Times published a 2012 article titled, Putnam, the pol who proves refreshingly sane.