Despite his fortune, Michael Bloomberg’s quixotic presidential campaign proved nothing more than an embarrassing experiment, showing no amount of money – even $900 million in ads blanketing Super Tuesday states – can buy the presidency.
But that failure hasn’t kept the ambitious Manhattan businessman down. Ever focused on the future, he’s determined to spend his sunset years molding the Democratic Party in his image. However, his hastiness may be his undoing.
Case in point? After endorsing Joe Biden, Bloomberg announced the dispersal of $18 million from his defunct presidential campaign to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Biden’s field offices, and state Democratic parties.
The problem is $18 million far exceeds federal limits on campaign contributions. While laypeople such as myself don’t know the intricacies of campaign finance law, veteran campaign finance attorney Dan Backer does.
“Allowing these kinds of contributions is everything we’ve said no to in 40 years of campaign finance jurisprudence,” railed Backer, who filed the FEC complaint on behalf of his pro-Trump Great America PAC. “Never has this been okay at the federal level.”
Backer has never been one to shy away from a fight, and he fully expects to win this one, even though FEC commissioners hail from both political parties.
“If you allow Bloomberg to do this, you’re giving democracy to a billionaire oligarch,” he added. “… Having been unable to buy voters, he’s doing the next best thing and buying the party itself.”
In an attempt to counter Backer’s crusade, the DNC has launched its own offensive, rejecting the narrative that anything illegal transpired. The DNC’s communications director, Xochitl Hinojosa, summed up her party’s response when prodded on Twitter.
No. Bloomberg was in earnest running for POTUS & transferred money to his campaign ahead of trying to win on Super Tuesday. Didn’t win. He, like any other candidate, can transfer that $ to a party cmte. A candidate moving $ just to transfer to a party doesn’t pass the smell test https://t.co/FyeD3VkjMQ
— Xochitl Hinojosa (@XochitlHinojosa) March 20, 2020
While the Democratic Party may find this explanation adequate, Hans von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission, does not.
Responding to Backer via text, von Spakovsky explained, “I assume you’re talking about the claim that Bloomberg is violating federal contribution limits due to the $18 million his campaign fund is giving to the DNC. I think this is a legitimate complaint filed with the FEC that has substantive legal grounds. It is a unique situation; because Bloomberg was the only contributor to his campaign and he has sole control over his campaign fund account, it does appear that he is using the campaign to launder a contribution to the DNC. That is a massive violation of the contribution limits an individual can give to political parties. According to the current campaign contribution limits set out by the FEC … Bloomberg could only contribute $35,500 to the DNC and $106,500 to the party’s special segregated accounts. Yet he is giving the DNC $18 million of his own money – money that, while it is currently in the campaign, he has complete control over.”