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Politics

Sanders: Don't Let Bloomberg 'Buy the Presidency'

"I'm spending all my money to get rid of Trump," Bloomberg says. Bernie hates it.

Nate Jackson · Feb. 19, 2020

In 2002, our elected representatives passed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, sometimes known as “McCain-Feingold” after its sponsors. It’s also sometimes called the Incumbent Protection Act because it restricts political speech in the form of campaign contributions in a way that greatly advantages incumbents over challengers. In any case, Democrats and not a few Republicans gloated about “getting the money out of politics.”

Not quite two decades later, Michael Bloomberg is trying to buy the presidency with his own vast fortune. While the average citizen can give just $2,800 to a candidate each election cycle, a billionaire can spend whatever he wants on his own candidacy. This isn’t the space to rehash the constitutionality of such restrictions, but let’s just say it’s incredibly suspect.

The billionaire former New York City mayor who once described multimillion-dollar ad buys as “obscene” because you “annoy people” has already spent $417 million, almost solely on campaign ads. That’s compared to “just” $194 million for fellow billionaire Tom Steyer, and Bloomberg’s binge is 10 times the money spent by Bernie Sanders or Pete Buttigieg. (By comparison, Donald Trump spent $66 million of his own fortune in 2016, though he still beat Hillary Clinton despite being vastly outraised and outspent.)

“[The] number one priority is to get rid of Donald Trump,” Bloomberg says. “I’m spending all my money to get rid of Trump.”

Sanders, for one, isn’t happy about that. “Mr. Bloomberg, like anybody else, has a right to run for president,” Sanders lectures. “He does not have a right to buy the presidency.”

Bloomberg is buying ads; Sanders is trying to buy votes with a quid pro quo — promises of “free” taxpayer giveaways of all sorts. Bloomberg’s pretty generous with his money (albeit for his own causes); Sanders wants to be generous with your money. Bloomberg has yet to win a single delegate and won’t be on a ballot until Super Tuesday; Sanders is arguably the Democrat front-runner, winning New Hampshire and, arguably, Iowa, while building a vast lead in Nevada.

In fact, Bloomberg has yet to participate in a debate, though that will change tonight in Las Vegas. And watching the 78-year-old millionaire Sanders attack the 78-year-old billionaire Bloomberg will be entertaining.

Finally, Bloomberg isn’t just spending his fortune on political office. He bankrolls hordes of lawyers around the nation to litigate climate cases. And Everytown for Gun Safety, the anti-Second Amendment group co-founded by Bloomberg, received a reported $38 million from him in 2018 alone. In short, Bloomberg with his billions is one of the archenemies of Liberty. That doesn’t make Sanders any better.

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