In less than three months as a candidate, Mr. Bloomberg has poured more than $400 million, and rapidly counting, into the campaign. But that figure pales in comparison with what he spent in prior years, positioning himself as a national leader with presidential ambitions.
A Times examination of Mr. Bloomberg’s philanthropic and political spending in the years leading up to his presidential bid illustrates how he developed a national infrastructure of influence, image-making and unspoken suasion that has helped transform a former Republican mayor of New York City into a plausible contender for the Democratic nomination. …
In all, Mr. Bloomberg has spent at least $10 billion on his charitable and political pursuits. The vast majority has gone to philanthropy, for causes that reflect his personal interests and passions, including $3.3 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University.
But The Times’s examination — based on a review of years of campaign and nonprofit tax filings, as well as interviews with more than 50 people who have benefited from his support — illustrates how deeply that philanthropy is entwined with Mr. Bloomberg’s political preoccupations. In fact, in 2019, the year he declared his presidential candidacy, Mr. Bloomberg’s charitable giving soared to $3.3 billion — more than in the previous five years combined. His campaign disclosed that total in response to inquiries by The Times, but the donations were not itemized and most of it does not fall under public disclosure requirements.