New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday he will spend as much as $15 million in the next three weeks to help moderate congressional candidates and back state ballot measures to legalize same-sex marriage.
Bloomberg’s money will be distributed through a new super-political action committee called Independence USA and will be used to fund television, radio and Internet ads and direct mail campaigns, said Howard Wolfson, a New York deputy mayor who is taking a leave of absence to oversee the super-PAC.
Bloomberg announced the political spending initiative --his largest yet aimed at nationwide contests -- on his mikebloomberg.com website. He is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
“He thinks he can have a major impact in the closing weeks of the campaign,” Wolfson said in a telephone interview. “He’s become increasingly concerned over the fact that so many issues that matter to New Yorkers, and to all Americans, have not been front and center in this campaign. He’s disappointed, and he thought the time was right to get involved and take a stand for bipartisanship and sensible legislation.”
The super-PAC will aid Democratic New York congressional candidate Dan Maffei, Maine independent Senate candidate Angus King, California Democratic congressional candidate Gloria Negrete McLeod and Representative Bob Dold, an Illinois Republican, Wolfson said.
The candidates Bloomberg is supporting are “moderates” who have shown a willingness to work with members of both parties and have positions in line with his own on stopping gun violence and reforming schools, Bloomberg’s website says.
Bloomberg’s money also will assist state efforts to legalize same-sex marriage. Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington have marriage initiatives before voters this year. Wolfson said Bloomberg has already sent help to support the Maryland measure endorsing same-sex unions.
Wolfson is New York deputy mayor for government and communications and is a former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Once a Democrat and later a Republican, Bloomberg, 70, is not a member of either political party. Worth $25 billion according to Forbes magazine, he has been mayor of New York since 2002 and leaves office at the end of next year.
Most of Bloomberg’s recent political spending has been directed to the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund, a group he helped start in 2006 and co-chairs with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. Bloomberg has contributed more than $3.1 million to that coalition in the past two years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based group that tracks political spending.
On Oct. 5, Bloomberg contributed $500,000 to Americans Elect, a group that has aired ads in support of King.
Bloomberg said he gave $1 million last month to the New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee’s housekeeping account, which can receive an unlimited amount of money. At the same time, he gave $75,000 to a group of four Democratic New York state lawmakers who describe themselves as independent of the Democratic minority.