U.S. markets open in 7 hours 42 minutes

How Bloomberg's philanthropy may have secured his political influence

Tim O'Donnell

Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is gaining some traction in the Democratic primary, despite his late entry. Part of the reason he's been able to do that, The New York Times reports after reviewing years of campaign and nonprofit tax filings, may be because he spent years building influence by donating hefty funds to certain causes.

Per the Times, some — though not all — of Bloomberg's philanthropic endeavors appear to have secured the allegiance of powerful institutions, as well as leaders within the Democratic Party. The Times is clear that no one interviewed for the story described anything akin to threats or coercion, but Bloomberg's financial influence did speak for itself in some cases. "They aren't going to criticize him in his 2020 run because they don't want to jeopardize receiving financial support from him in the future," said Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at the good-government group Common Cause.

In 2015, the Times reports, researchers at the Center for American Progress turned in a report on anti-Muslim bias in the U.S., which included about 4,000 words on New York City police surveillance of Muslim communities. Bloomberg, because he was the city's mayor, was mentioned a handful of times. But when the report was published, the chapter was gone. A spokeswoman for the policy group said the chapter was removed for editorial reasons, but Yasmine Taeb, the author of the report, said there was fear about how it would be perceived by Bloomberg. An email reviewed by the Times also shows at least one official wrote that there would be a "strong reaction from Bloomberg world if we release the report as written," and three people with direct knowledge of the situation reportedly confirmed Bloomberg was a factor in the decision. Read more at The New York Times.

More stories from theweek.com
Mike Bloomberg is not the lesser of two evils
George H.W. Bush deputy attorney general says ex-colleague Barr is creating a 'banana republic'
What if Trump stopped tweeting?