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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Bloomberg Bucks

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, has begun.

 Alexander Burns and Nicholas Kulish at NYT:
Since leaving City Hall at the end of 2013, Mr. Bloomberg has become the single most important political donor to the Democratic Party and its causes. His personal fortune, built on a financial information and news company, is estimated at over $60 billion. It fuels an advocacy network that has directed policy in dozens of states and cities; mobilized movements to take on gun violence and climate change; rewritten election laws and health regulations; and elected scores of politicians to offices as modest as the school board and as lofty as the Senate.
He has spent billions on philanthropy:
But The Times’s examination — based on a review of years of campaign and nonprofit tax filings, as well as interviews with more than 50 people who have benefited from his support — illustrates how deeply that philanthropy is entwined with Mr. Bloomberg’s political preoccupations. In fact, in 2019, the year he declared his presidential candidacy, Mr. Bloomberg’s charitable giving soared to $3.3 billion — more than in the previous five years combined. His campaign disclosed that total in response to inquiries by The Times, but the donations were not itemized and most of it does not fall under public disclosure requirements.
Mr. Bloomberg has probably spent more from his personal fortune on his presidential campaign than any politician in American history. And while there have been political megadonors like the casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, philanthropic giants like Bill Gates and self-funded candidates like Ross Perot, never before has one presidential hopeful combined the influence and reach of all three.
With a chilling effect:
“They aren’t going to criticize him in his 2020 run because they don’t want to jeopardize receiving financial support from him in the future,” said Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at the good-government group Common Cause.

That chilling effect was apparent in 2015 to researchers at the Center for American Progress, a liberal policy group, when they turned in a report on anti-Muslim bias in the United States. Their draft included a chapter of more than 4,000 words about New York City police surveillance of Muslim communities; Mr. Bloomberg was mentioned by name eight times in the chapter, which was reviewed by The Times.
 When the report was published a few weeks later, the chapter was gone. So was any mention of Mr. Bloomberg’s name.
 Rebecca R. Ruiz at NYT:
Mr. Bloomberg, the multibillionaire behind Bloomberg L.P., has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the race, paying to make his voice omnipresent on television and radio. He has deployed his corporation in service of his campaign, reassigning employees from the various arms of his empire and recruiting new ones with powerful financial incentives, including full benefits and salaries well above national campaign norms.
Entry-level field organizing work for Mr. Bloomberg, for example, pays $72,000 annually — nearly twice what other campaigns have offered. In under 12 weeks, Mr. Bloomberg’s operation has grown to a staff of thousands, with more than 125 offices around the country and a roster of slick events featuring swag, drinks and canapés.
...
Day-to-day, some Bloomberg campaign workers with prior political experience, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about their work for Mr. Bloomberg, described what they saw as an unfathomable luxury: the ability to brainstorm and act on their ideas without concern for costs. The campaign has, for instance, hired 70 staff members in Florida and opened field offices in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.
Howard Dean strategist Joe Trippi says that penury can spark creativity, but...
 Nonetheless, he added, laughing: “Picking between the advantage of being a little bit more creative with your money, versus having the money to do whatever you want to do — most campaigns would pick having more money.” 
Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts at Voice of San Diego:
Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has built a significant footprint in San Diego County, and it’s squeezing local campaigns.

Leading up to 2020, local campaigns were concerned presidential campaigns would buy up TV time in the run-up to the March election — making it harder and more expensive for them to buy their ads to reach a mass audience.

Now, there’s a bigger concern they didn’t see coming.

Multiple local campaign professionals have told us Bloomberg’s campaign is hiring staffers, paying them more than local campaigns could come close to matching and promising to keep many of them on through November.

It’s created a labor squeeze for campaign workers and paid canvassers, just as candidates are starting the process of turning out voters.
Stuart Stevens sarcastically replies to Bloomberg critics: