NEW YORK (CBS/AP) Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spent at least $650 million of his own fortune on New York City over the course of three terms in office, according to a New York Times report out Sunday.
Sorting through public documents, philanthropy databases and other records, the newspaper says that figure is probably low.
Since taking office in 2002, Bloomberg has spent about $62,400 in 12 years for weekly cleanings of two large saltwater fish tanks in City Hall. Insisting on comfort and convenience for his aides’ travels, he’s shelled out about $6 million for private jets.
Both personally and through his company, Bloomberg LP, Bloomberg has donated at least $263 million to New York arts, civic, health and cultural groups, including a cool $30 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and $100,000 annually to the Queens Theater in the Park. He also wrote a check for $30 million to create a city program that would help disadvantaged black and Latino men.
Bloomberg’s wealth, which Forbes Magazine has estimated at $27 billion, allowed him to famously turn down the $2.7 million salary to which he was entitled in favor of just $1 a year; as the Times observes: “In the past, the city paid its mayor; Mr. Bloomberg paid to be the city’s mayor.” It’s also freed him to rule the Big Apple without the ties of political parties, campaign donors and special interest groups.
From the vantage point of his opponents, Bloomberg’s spout of personal finances has built an impenetrable reign: In addition to the $23 million he’s handed to other campaigns, he also poured at least $268 million of his own funds into his own campaigns for mayor – $73 million running for his controversial third term.
From the perspective of City Hall, though, it brought real policy change: Bloomberg’s put $7 million toward gun control, $5.7 million toward immigration reform and $6.2 million toward volunteerism.
New Yorkers, for their part, are split on whether Bloomberg’s money has mattered at all. An August poll conducted by the Times showed 30 percent who believed it made him a better mayor, 27 percent who said it made him a worse mayor and 35 percent who said it made no difference at all.
Bloomberg leaves office at midnight Tuesday.