You can add Mike Bloomberg’s name to the list of rich guys with super PACs this election year. The New York mayor will spend as much as $15 million of his money to support moderate candidates around the country who support some of his pet issues like gun control and school reform. This is by no means the first time Mayor Bloomberg has used his wealth to influence politics and policy beyond the city.
As mayor, he’s worked to reduce many of the things he doesn't like -- guns, smoking and big sodas are just a few.
“He puts his money where his mouth is," says Kenneth Sherrill, a political science professor at Hunter College. "And he uses his money to make sure that his mouth gets heard wherever he wants.”
Forbes Magazine says Bloomberg’s net worth is a $25 billion. Combine that with the bully pulpit of leading the nation’s biggest city, and you have some outsize influence.
“He’s used his power as mayor to multiply the power of his wealth in politics,” Sherrill says.
Take tobacco, for example. After implementing smoking bans in restaurants in New York, the Bloomberg's philanthropic organization poured $375 million into similar efforts beyond the city.
Those dollars went to organizations like the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Its president Matthew Myers says the mayor’s power can be seen as far away as Turkey, which banned smoking in many indoor places.
“Turkey acted only after looking at the experience of New York City and with financial support from Bloomberg Philanthropy,” Myers says.
“Can you think of somebody else who’s combined those two things in this way," wonders Sherrill.
With his new super PAC, Mayor Bloomberg is banking he can have the same influence in this election season.