Steyer and Bloomberg Have Astroturf, Not Grassroots

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Posted: Dec 15, 2019 2:18 PM
Steyer and Bloomberg Have Astroturf, Not Grassroots

Source: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

Forget grassroots movements. Two Democratic billionaires are currently trying to purchase the Democratic nomination for president. Billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg have already thrown millions around in their efforts to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

Michael Bloomberg has used his philanthropic foundation to mask the candidate's purchase of political influence. The New York Times recently reported on how Bloomberg's foundation is strategically giving millions to certain cities across the country, and now the mayors of those cities are beginning to line up to endorse Bloomberg for president.

(Via The New York Times) 

Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has assets totaling $9 billion, has supported 196 different cities with grants, technical assistance and education programs worth a combined $350 million. Now, leaders in some of those cities are forming the spine of Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign: He has been endorsed so far by eight mayors — from larger cities like San Jose, Calif., and Louisville, Ky., and smaller ones like Gary, Ind., representing a total of more than 2.6 million Americans. For all of those endorsers, Mr. Bloomberg has been an important benefactor.

The Times' report began with the mayor of Stockton, California who recently endorsed Michael Bloomberg for president. Stockton's liberal mayor, 29-year-old Michael Tubbs, is the first black mayor of the city. Tubbs just so happens to have graduated from a mayoral training program funded by Michael Bloomberg and attended a conference in Paris in 2017 that was co-sponsored by the billionaire. An education reform group based in Stockton received a $500,000 donation from Bloomberg's foundation this past June. Tubbs called Michael Bloomberg the candidate with "the record, relationships, and resources to win."

A top aide for the Steyer campaign was reportedly offering money to local politicians in Iowa in exchange for political endorsements. The campaign's outright purchase of political endorsements is not a violation of campaign finance laws, so long as the expenses are properly disclosed to the Federal Election Commission. It may be legal, but something about it just looks shady to people. 

Tom Steyer is currently leading his fellow Democratic candidates on digital ad buys, but Bloomberg is quickly catching up. It was reported in November that Michael Bloomberg is planning to spend $15 million to $20 million on a voter registration drive in five battleground states in an effort to undermine President Trump's bid for reelection. That's on top of the $100 million Bloomberg plans on spending in online campaign ads attacking President Trump in four battleground states.

It should be noted that when Bloomberg News recently barred its reporters from reporting on Michael Bloomberg and the other Democratic candidates, Bloomberg News also told its reporters they would not be able to investigate Bloomberg's foundation. 

It's still an early race, but so far the astroturf doesn't appear to be fooling anybody. Real Clear Politics' average of the polls currently shows Bloomberg with little over five percent support nationwide and Tom Steyer with just over one-and-a-half percent.