'Blatantly un-American': Legal advocates rip Florida GOP's push to ban free legal assistance for election officials

Ron DeSantis
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Buchanan)

Florida's Republican-led legislature is moving to advance a proposed bill that would ban free legal assistance for election officials; a political move that has troubled legal advocates who previously worked to assist election workers amid former President Donald Trump's post-election false accusations and conspiracy theories.

According to CNN:

The bill, which Florida's Republican-controlled Legislature passed this month and GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign, would extend an existing ban on private donations to help run elections to include 'the cost of any litigation related to election administration.' Critics say that provision amounts to a ban on pro-bono legal help for election officials.

The proposed bill also includes an initiative for the formation of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R) previously proposed elections law enforcement agency. Facing opposition from legal advocates, the bill is at the center of multiple debates as critics "worry the idea will spread to other states at a time when Republican-led states have taken aim at private funding of election functions," reports CNN.

Now, legal advocates are speaking out to voice their concerns and frustrations about the controversial bill. Speaking to CNN, David Becker, a former official with the U.S. Department of Justice who currently assists in overseeing the Election Official Legal Defense Network, recently shared his concerns about the bill describing it as "blatantly un-American." He also placed an emphasis on the importance of due process.

"Due process is a cornerstone of our democracy," said Becker. "The idea that you could be criminally targeted for prosecution but not represented by a lawyer who you chose, that you like, that is willing to represent you, pro bono -- that's blatantly un-American by any measure.

Despite critical responses to the bill, DeSantis' office has publicly defended the initiative. In an emailed statement to CNN, Bryan Griffin, a spokesperson for the Republican governor, "said the goal of limiting private funds is to "ensure the total impartiality of those who administer elections in Florida, including supervisors of elections."

He added, "This will include preventing funding or favors from outside entities which could affect their impartiality."

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