Michael Bloomberg plowed a little more than $200 million of his vast fortune into his presidential bid at the end of last year — a snapshot of the staggering investment the former New York mayor made in the early weeks of his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, new filings show.
Nearly three-quarters of the $188 million Bloomberg reported spending during the first month of his candidacy went to television and digital advertising as the billionaire raced to introduce himself to Democratic primary voters and begin to pummel President Donald Trump on the airwaves, according to the campaign’s account of spending to federal election regulators.
Bloomberg campaign aides said the early spending is just the start for a candidate who has indicated a willingness to pump as much $1 billion of his personal fortune into the race, even if he loses the nomination.
“Our first month’s filing represents a down payment and commitment in all 50 states to defeat Donald Trump, and it shows we have the resources and plan necessary to take him on,” Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said in a statement.
The report Friday, Bloomberg’s first filing with the Federal Election Commission since he entered the race in late November, underscores how the former mayor is using his estimated $60 billion fortune to advance his White House ambitions and quickly build a vast campaign operation.
Just 150 people worked on the campaign through December 31, the period covered by Friday’s filing. The campaign now employs 1,000 people across 35 states. And Bloomberg’s spending on TV, digital and radio ads is nearing the $300 million mark, dwarfing all his rivals in the Democratic field, according to a CNN tally of data from Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group.
His spending is setting records. Bloomberg’s advertising bill alone rivals nearly the $343 million spent by Trump’s campaign on all expenses during the entire 2016 presidential cycle.
Bloomberg also is running an unorthodox campaign bypassing the early nominating contests, which kick off Monday with the Iowa caucuses. Instead, he has set his sights on the 14 Super Tuesday states, which vote March 3, and beyond.
There are signs his heavy advertising spending has begun to pay off. Although former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders lead most polls, Bloomberg’s standing is rising, and recent national polls show him pulling even or slightly ahead of former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota’s Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Bloomberg is not accepting donations from contributors. And the Democratic National Committee’s decision — announced Friday — to eliminate an individual donor requirement to participate in future primary debates could open the door to Bloomberg joining the debate stage in Las Vegas on February 19.
Other top Bloomberg expenses disclosed Friday include $3.3 million in polling and $14 million to his company, Bloomberg LP, that campaign officials describe as a “prepayment” for expenses the campaign is likely to incur, such as the operation of the corporate-owned plane Bloomberg uses on his campaign. Another $12 million went to Hawkfish LLC, described by his aides as a Bloomberg-owned firm that serves as the campaign’s main digital advertising agency.
The campaign also reported $1.5 million in rent payments for its headquarters in New York City.
The report shows $12 million remaining in his campaign account. But aides say that does not reflect the full amount that Bloomberg is prepared to spend in his fight for the presidency.
All candidates have until midnight to report their year-end fundraising and spending to election regulators.