From The New York Times:
Michael R. Bloomberg, the Wall Street mogul whose fortune catapulted him into New York’s City Hall, has set another staggering financial record: He has now spent more of his own money than any other individual in United States history in the pursuit of public office.
Newly released campaign records show the mayor, as of Friday, had spent $85 million on his latest re-election campaign, and is on pace to spend between $110 million and $140 million before the election on Nov. 3.
That means Mr. Bloomberg, in his three bids for mayor, will have easily burned through more than $250 million — the equivalent of what Warner Brothers spent on the latest Harry Potter movie.
The sum easily surpasses what other titans of business have spent to seek state or federal office. New Jersey’s Jon S. Corzine has plunked down a total of $130 million in two races for governor and one for United States Senate. Steve Forbes poured $114 million into his two bids for president. And Ross Perot spent $65 million in his quest for the White House in 1992 and $10 million four years later.
Mr. Bloomberg has used his wealth, estimated at $16 billion, to establish what appears to be insurmountable financial dominance in the race.
He has spent at least 14 times what his Democratic rival in the race, William C. Thompson Jr., has: $6 million.
Since late September, the pace of Mr. Bloomberg’s spending has drastically accelerated: He is now sending nearly $1 million a day into the city’s economy. The bulk of the money is devoted to advertising on television, radio and the Web, but much of it bankrolls a first-class approach to parties, snacks and travel.
The campaign has spent $322,521 on food, $293,953 on transportation, $176,066 on furniture and $39,858 on parking.
With more than 100 employees, his campaign now has a staff larger than 97 percent of all businesses in New York City. And his political operation has become a one-man economic stimulus program, buying $8,892 worth of pizza from Goodfellas Brick Oven Pizza on Staten Island and in the Bronx. The company had suffered a big drop in business since the start of the recession.
Squier Knapp Dunn, the media company responsible for the mayor’s television ads, has taken in $48,313,776. While most of that money pays for TV time, media companies typically receive fees of about 15 percent.
The spending has drawn howls of protest from good-government groups and advocates of campaign finance reform. In interviews, several said, angrily, that the mayor’s decisions to rewrite New York City’s term limits law and then spend wildly to secure re-election, have undermined democratic principles.
“Whether Bloomberg wins or loses, the toxic combination of mega-spending and crass use of his office to bypass the voters on term limits will always be a stain on his mayoralty,” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group.
A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign, Howard Wolfson, defended the spending, saying, “Voters in this race have a choice between one candidate who is independent and doesn’t take a dime from special interests and another who practices politics as usual.”
Mr. Thompson, a Democrat, has had the unenviable task of trying to raise money in the middle of a deep recession, when many voters already assume that Mr. Bloomberg will prevail.
The newly released records show that Mr. Bloomberg is handsomely rewarding top aides who take leaves from their City Hall posts to join the campaign. His first deputy mayor, Patricia E. Harris, is earning about $28,000 a month. It is a healthy raise: At City Hall, she made about $21,000 a month.
The mayor also typically showers the aides with additional bonuses after Election Day.
All that money shows how far Mr. Bloomberg has come, wealth-wise. His campaign spending this year will nearly equal what his boyhood hometown of Medford, Mass., population 55,000, devotes to its annual budget.