michael bloomberg

The Billionaire’s Guide to Campaign Staffing

Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Since his late entry in November, Michael Bloomberg has hired over 1,000 staffers across the country — hundreds more than any other campaign — authorizing 2,000 more hires after the Iowa-caucuses fiasco, according to the New York Times. His campaign is also paying hundreds of Californians $2,500 a month to post daily on social media in support of Bloomberg and to evangelize to every contact in their phones via text. FEC campaign disclosure forms released last month give the most detailed picture of his spending: With million-dollar consulting contracts, salaries up to $375,000 (even low-level organizers are making $60,000 or $70,000), and $700,000 in housing rentals for staff in November and December alone, he’s wooed a number of longtime sidekicks, Bloomberg Media editors, veteran political operatives, and tech executives. Here are some of the notable hires who make up the former mayor’s team (so far).

Kevin Sheekey is serving as campaign manager for his longtime boss. Sheekey was chief of staff for New York senator Pat Moynihan before joining the Bloomberg LP comms team he would eventually run. He also managed Bloomberg’s second mayoral campaign, served as deputy mayor, and flirted with challenging Bill de Blasio in the 2017 mayoral race.

Jason Schechter is the campaign’s communications director and the chief communications officer at Bloomberg LP. He was President Clinton’s assistant press secretary and a press aide for Clinton’ reelection campaign in 1996.

Stu Loeser is Bloomberg’s spokesperson, a well-worn role for him after his years as Mayor Bloomberg’s truculent press secretary and Chuck Schumer’s communications director before that. He also directed media research on Al Gore’s presidential campaign and represented clients like Uber, disgraced former New York State AG Eric Schneiderman, Tina Brown, and Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance.

Patti Harris, another veteran who has followed Bloomberg across his many lives, will serve as campaign chair on top of her duties as CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies. She began her career in city government, first as an assistant to Mayor Ed Koch and then as director of the New York City Art Commission — and was later Bloomberg’s first deputy mayor.

As with Bloomberg’s three mayoral runs, Doug Schoen is his presidential campaign’s pollster. Schoen has also handled polling work for the Clintons during the 1996 and 2008 elections as well as for Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi, and a number of corporations. In November, in anticipation of joining Bloomberg’s campaign, Schoen dropped his client Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian billionaire, whose payment to the Donald J. Trump Foundation was the subject of Mueller-investigation scrutiny.

Bill Knapp is the campaign’s lead ad man. He’s created political advertising for the Clinton and Obama presidential campaigns and Bloomberg’s three mayoral races, among others. In November, he announced a leave of absence from his consulting firm, which is working for the Biden campaign.

Mick Purzycki is the lead strategist for Meme 2020, which has been hiring Instagram meme influencers to post sponsored content for the Bloomberg campaign. Purzycki is the executive director of Jerry Media, a social-media marketing agency responsible for the promotion of the legendarily disastrous Fyre Festival, born of viral Instagram meme page FuckJerry.

The campaign has enlisted Dan Wagner’s Civis Analytics. He was chief analytics officer for Obama’s 2012 campaign and is founder and CEO of a data-analytics firm that is funded in part by Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Tim O’Brien is a senior adviser for the Bloomberg campaign, after taking a leave of absence from his posts as executive editor at Bloomberg Opinion and an MSNBC contributor. He was previously an editor and reporter at the New York Times and authored a 2005 biography of Donald Trump.

David Shipley was senior executive editor at Bloomberg Opinion and has taken a leave of absence to work on the election effort. He was previously an editor at the New York Times’ “Opinion” section. At least five other editors from Bloomberg Opinion and Bloomberg News are now working for the campaign.

Gary Briggs, who was Facebook’s chief marketing officer until 2018, when he left to “hopefully join a few boards” and “help the Democratic Party on some efforts leading up to the U.S. midterms this year through to 2020.” Prior to Facebook, he spent time as a marketing executive for Google, Motorola, eBay, and PayPal, and was CEO of a gift-card company called Plastic Jungle.

Jeff Glueck recently left his post as the CEO of Foursquare to direct digital research and engagement for Hawkfish, the Bloomberg campaign’s digital wing. Glueck worked in energy policy as a White House fellow during the Clinton administration and later started an online travel agency with a White House co-worker, which was eventually purchased by Travelocity. Glueck ran marketing for Travelocity and claims to have created its long-running “roaming gnome” ad campaign.

Julie Wood is the campaign’s national press secretary. She was recently director of communications at Lyft and previously worked in communications at Lyft’s bike-share company, Motivate, and Kickstarter. She was also senior spokesperson for the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign and Bloomberg’s first deputy press secretary during his final mayoral term.

Howard Wolfson is a senior campaign adviser on top of his ongoing work for Bloomberg Philanthropies. He became Bloomberg’s senior campaign strategist in 2009, after working for the New York Democratic Party in opposition to Bloomberg’s 2005 mayoral run, and later became his deputy mayor. Wolfson was also the communications director for Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaigns and Clinton’s 2008 presidential run. He has represented corporate clients like Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Capricia Marshall has also joined the campaign. She has served as President Obama’s U.S. chief of protocol, President Clinton’s deputy assistant and White House social secretary, and senior adviser on Hillary Clinton’s senatorial and presidential campaigns. She was also special assistant to First Lady Hillary Clinton.

Bradley Tusk is serving as an adviser to the campaign. Tusk runs a VC and political-strategy firm and worked as a political strategist for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Uber, and other gig-economy companies in their regulatory battles. He was previously special adviser and campaign manager for Mayor Bloomberg, communications director for Senator Chuck Schumer, and the deputy governor of Illinois.

Dan Kanninen is Bloomberg’s states director. He directed various state and regional operations for both Obama presidential campaigns, served as White House liaison for the EPA, and ran Clinton’s North Carolina efforts during the 2016 race.

Shari Yost Gold is serving as a senior fundraising adviser, reportedly working to recruit wealthy donors not to donate, but to stump for the campaign. She has also done fundraising consulting work for Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign, Politico, Elle, and the Teamsters, among others.

Kimberly Peeler-Allen is also working as a fundraising adviser for the campaign. She is a guest lecturer at Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics and co-chair of Higher Heights for America PAC, a political action committee that works to elect progressive black women to office.

Cassandra Henry, Bloomberg’s deputy states director, worked for Beto O’Rourke during his Hail Mary campaign for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat and then as chief of staff to the deputy campaign manager for O’Rourke’s presidential rumspringa.

Kelly Mehlenbacher is the Mike 2020 deputy chief operating officer. She comes from Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign, where she was state operations director before she resigned, citing labor conditions and the lack of a winning plan. “This is my third presidential campaign and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly,” she wrote in an open letter. She was also treasury manager for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and worked as a State Department liaison to the Obama White House.

Brynne Craig is Bloomberg’s senior adviser, moving over from campaign manager of his Beyond Carbon clean-energy organization. She was deputy director of state campaigns and political engagement for the 2016 Clinton campaign.

Carlos Sanchez is national political director. He was previously deputy national political director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, senior adviser to New Mexico congressman Ben Ray Luján, executive director of the House Democratic Caucus, and chief of staff to Texas congressman Joaquin Castro.

Jason Rodriguez is deputy political director. He was the deputy Latino-vote director for the 2016 Clinton campaign and deputy chief of staff for Nevada congressman Steven Horsford.

Mitch Stewart, senior adviser on campaign strategy, was Obama’s reelection battleground-states director. He also handled regional campaign operations for John Edwards in 2004 and Obama in 2008.

Elisha Wiesel, stepped down as co-chief information officer at Goldman Sachs in December to “volunteer” as a consultant in digital efforts for the campaign’s Hawkfish. He is the son of the late Holocaust survivor and memoirist Elie Wiesel.

John Calvelli took a leave of absence from his position as executive vice-president for public affairs at the Wildlife Conservation Society to be Bloomberg’s New York State director. He’s also been the vice chair of international affairs at the National Italian American Foundation.

Stephanie Murphy is national co-chair of the Bloomberg campaign on top of her duties as a congressperson representing Florida’s Seventh District.

Manny Diaz is serving as Bloomberg’s policy adviser, surrogate, national political co-chair, and co-chair of the Florida campaign. He was a two-term mayor of Miami and represented Elián González’s relatives during the famous international custody dispute.

Michael Nutter is also national political co-chair. He was previously mayor of Philadelphia and served on President Obama’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.

The Billionaire’s Guide to Campaign Staffing