Bloomberg to give $18M to DNC; state parties to get offices

Politics

Former Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg speaks to supporters as he announces the suspension of his campaign and his endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden for president in New York Wednesday , March 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Mike Bloomberg is transferring $18 million from his presidential campaign to the Democratic National Committee in the largest single such transfer ever.

It’s the latest sign of the billionaire businessman’s continued involvement in the race since ending his own campaign this month because of a lackluster showing in the March 3 primaries. In those Super Tuesday contests, the former New York City mayor won only one U.S. territory.

Bloomberg’s contribution amounts to more than the national party’s typical cash balance. The transfer will help the DNC make up for some of the steep fundraising disadvantage when compared with its Republican counterpart, which routinely has raised tens of millions more than the Democratic organization throughout election cycles.

One of the world’s wealthiest men with a net worth estimated to exceed $60 billion, Bloomberg promised throughout his campaign that he would help Democrats try to defeat President Donald Trump regardless of how his own White House bid fared.

The Bloomberg campaign, which hired a staff of 2,400 people across 43 states, will also transfer its offices in six pivotal states to the Democratic parties in those states, to help accelerate their hiring and organizing. Those states are Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Former Bloomberg campaign staffers in those offices will continue to be paid by his campaign through the first week in April and have full benefits through the end of April. After that, they could in theory offer the state parties a trained and ready pool of potential hires to build out their operations heading into the November general election.

Bloomberg had promised staffers when they were hired that they would be paid through November, but earlier this month most of his campaign team was told they had been let go and would be paid only through the end of March.

DNC officials said Bloomberg’s money and real-estate transfers would be used to expand the party’s 12-state battleground program, with a focus on hiring additional staffers to work in organizing and data operations. Bloomberg’s former campaign employees will not have any advantage in the hiring process, officials said.

“Mayor Bloomberg and his team are making good on their commitment” to stay engaged through November, said DNC Chairman Tom Perez in a statement. He added that the support will “help Democrats win up and down the ballot” and “help make sure Donald Trump is a one-term president.”

Bloomberg dropped out of the race March 4, the day after his Super Tuesday disappointment. Since then he has given tens of millions of his own money to various Democratic groups and causes.

In a memo to Perez announcing the transfer, the Bloomberg campaign said that while Trump’s “mismanagement” of the coronavirus crisis should cost him, “we should also not assume that Trump’s incompetence will be enough to make him a one-term President.”

“Trump’s ability to lie and propagate misinformation, particularly using digital tools and other means with swing voters in battleground states, will continue to ensure a close race in November. Every decision we make as Democrats must account for this,” the campaign wrote.

Since exiting the race, Bloomberg has contributed $500,000 to Voto Latino to help register Latino voters, $2 million to the group Collective Future to help register African American voters, and $2 million to Swing Left, a group focused on electing Democrats in swing districts.

The DNC’s battleground effort targets Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. It’s a mix of states that have flipped back-and-forth between the two parties in recent presidential cycles and a few that have leaned Republican but are expected to be competitive in November.

Though the DNC will never match its GOP counterpart in financial muscle, Perez and party leaders have placed a premium on coordination across the Democratic spectrum this presidential cycle after watching Republican quietly upstage them on data operations and voter outreach in 2016.

Democrats are still putting together a data exchange that will link campaigns, the national party’s voter file and voter information from independent groups such as the Priorities USA Super PAC, a major advertising and voter outreach player for Democratic efforts.

As part of that effort, Bloomberg and every other Democratic presidential candidate who bought the DNC’s national voter file committed to update voter information. That means, for example, that likely nominee Joe Biden’s presidential campaign will be able to use voter information that Bloomberg’s massive campaign operation gleaned while it was in operation.

Bloomberg’s direct aid to the national party is possible only because he was a presidential candidate. Federal campaign finance laws place caps on how much an individual can give a political party committee. But individuals can loan or contribute as much of their personal money to their campaigns as they want. In turn, presidential campaigns can transfer unlimited sums to official party committees.

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