TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Party of Florida are turning the effort to remove non-citizens from voting lists into a political fundraising appeal and are attacking President Barack Obama, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, former Gov. Charlie Crist and others along the way.

But Scott says the effort that once questioned the citizenship of as many as 180,000 registered voters isn’t about politics.

“You see, unlike President Obama’s allies, I don’t view the world through a partisan lens,” says a letter mailed by the party and signed by Scott. “I’m appalled that so many Democrats have stepped up to defend the right of non-citizens to cast ballots in Florida.”

The letter tells donors if they agree with Scott’s voter purge, to send a check to the Republican Party of Florida. It suggests amounts ranging from $25 to “$1,000 or more.”

Scott last year first pushed to have the state look for non-U.S. citizens on the rolls. The state initially compared a list of driver’s licenses with voter registration data and came up with a potential list of 180,000 voters suspected of not being citizens.

That list was pared back to a much smaller one of more than 2,600 registered voters that was sent to county election officials this past spring. Many election supervisors, however, did not wind up removing anyone after questions about the accuracy of the list arose — hundreds of voters turned out to be citizens. The list is now down to about 200 after the state reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to screen names on a federal immigration database.

Democrats and others have criticized the effort, saying that while they agree non-citizens shouldn’t vote, the voter purge also risks taking away votes from citizens who were properly registered. Critics have also argued that the list unfairly targets Hispanics.

The fundraising letter seeks to make the matter a political issue, despite Scott’s claims that it’s simply about following the law.

It begins by saying, “In Chicago, it’s well known that dead people and non-citizens cast ballots ‘early and often.'” Obama is from Chicago and his campaign is based there.

The letter also hits Crist, a former Republican who isn’t registered with either major party. Many speculate, however, that Crist may try a return to politics as a Democrat and seek to challenge Scott.

“I’m equally appalled that neither Crist nor the Democrats have stepped up to defend the right of millions of legal Florida voters to cast ballots.”

The letter goes on to say that Nelson, who is seeking his third term, “claimed that somehow, preventing non-citizens from voting is discriminatory.”

The Republican Party of Florida didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. Nelson’s office didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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