Bloomberg Spent $109M To Barely Win a Third Term

That's 11 times the amount spent by Bill Thompson who lost by 5 percentage points

All the bills are paid and the price of the most expensive self-financed bid for office in U.S. history — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's campaign for a third term — totals $109.2 million.

The billionaire mayor, who outspent his Democratic opponent by more than 11 times, filed a final spending report Thursday with the state Board of Elections, showing $866,250 in expenses since the last filing in January.

Those costs were leftover bills and expenses associated with shutting down the 2009 campaign, said deputy mayor Howard Wolfson, who was Bloomberg's campaign spokesman before he joined the administration.

The payments included staff wages, consultant costs, rental car bills, office utilities and accountants' fees. Wolfson did not respond to a question about why some expenses were paid as late as last month.

Bloomberg, a former CEO who founded the financial information company that bears his name, has a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at $18 billion. He is ranked as the wealthiest person in New York City and the 23rd richest in the world.

He did not take donations or public money and was permitted to spend freely on his campaign, but had to disclose his expenses like other candidates who raise money.

Dave Levinthal at the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics, said the mayor's spending total is "a remarkable number for one candidate self-financing."

"This simply has not happened at any level of government," Levinthal added.

Before Election Day in November, Bloomberg had already made history and broken records for the most personal money spent by a candidate on his own public office campaign.

His reign at the top may be short-lived, however — in California, billionaire and former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman has already spent $90 million of her own money on her Republican campaign for governor and has said she is willing to spent $150 million.

The 68-year-old mayor's opponent, William Thompson Jr., relied on donations and matching funds and spent $9.4 million.

Despite the staggering difference in spending and an expectation that Bloomberg was a shoo-in, the Republican-turned-independent won by fewer than five percentage points.

Thompson managed to tap voter outrage over the way Bloomberg had persuaded the City Council to change the city's term-limit law so that he could run for a third term.

The law had limited officeholders to two consecutive four-year terms.

The amount Bloomberg spent equals about $186 per vote for the 585,466 he received. Thompson spent about $17 per vote and lost by 50,600 votes.

Most of Bloomberg's spending — more than $56 million — went toward advertising, and millions went to consultants, strategists and pollsters.

He handed out $400,000 bonuses to each of his three top strategists, and most of his other staffers were also rewarded with bonuses equal to about 20 percent of their salaries.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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