Democrats, eager to position themselves as the good guys in the campaign finance debate, weren’t real happy about all that Bloomberg money flowing into the primary campaign.
Bloomberg spent an estimated $500 million in just 100 days on slick TV ads, mailers, about 2400 staff spread around the country and for political-data and polling. Critics, including his Democratic primary opponents, accused him of trying to buy the nomination.
But now that Bloomberg has abandoned his campaign, will the Democrats become more accepting of his pledge to keep spending millions to help Democrats win the presidency and other races in the general election?
Bernie Sanders has said he wants to win with small dollar individual contributions. He’s also said he wouldn’t welcome Bloomberg’s big money help. Joe Biden, who has a history of decrying the role of wealthy people and special interests in elections, has been considerably more flexible in practice.
According to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Open Secrets, a nonpartisan website by the Center for Responsive Politics that tracks the effects of money and lobbying on elections and public policy, Sanders has raised $134,069,993, about one-third of that in large contributions.
In contrast, the Biden for President committee has raised $68,281,49, about two-thirds of that in large contributions:
A pro-Biden SuperPAC, Unite the Country, has raised an additional $7,919,417 from just 163 donors, with employees of the top three donors (Masimo Corp; Blum Capital Partners; Marcus & Millichap) giving $1 million each. A Leadership PAC, American Possibilities, has donated $432,948 more.
If Bloomberg decides to follow through on his pledge to spend millions to defeat Trump, there are no limits on what he can spend. Since he’s worth an estimated $60 billion, he could be a very big player.
He would be prohibited from coordinating his spending decisions with the eventual Democratic nominee, but that is honored more in the breach than the observance. .
Biden says on his presidential campaign website that he will “reduce the corrupting influence of money in politics.”
“Biden strongly believes that we could improve our politics overnight if we flushed big money from the system and had public financing of our elections,” his website says. “Democracy works best when a big bank account or a large donor list are not prerequisites for office, and elected representatives come from all backgrounds, regardless of resources. But for too long, special interests and corporations have skewed the policy process in their favor with political contributions.”
So much for empty rhetoric.
If Biden wins the Democratic nomination, neither he nor the Democratic Party will try to stop Bloomberg from pouring his money into the campaign to defeat Trump. You can bet on it.