Sen. Bernie Sanders late Friday strongly condemned reports that billionaire businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg—who is mulling a late entry into the 2020 Democratic presidential primary—spent over $30 million out of his own pocket on a single week of television ads set to air as soon as Monday.
“I’m a little old-fashioned. I believe in democracy—one person, one vote,” Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, said in a statement. “I’m disgusted by the idea that Michael Bloomberg or any other billionaire thinks they can circumvent the political process and spend tens of millions of dollars to buy our elections.”
“It’s just the latest example of a rigged political system that we are going to change when we’re in the White House,” Sanders added. “If you can’t build grassroots support for your candidacy, you have no business running for president. The American people are sick and tired of the power of billionaires, and I suspect they won’t react well to someone trying to buy an election.”
As the New York Times reported, “the scope of Mr. Bloomberg’s ad buy is staggering.”
“It is more than all of Mr. Bloomberg’s potential rivals—other than the other billionaire running, Tom Steyer—have spent on television ads all year,” the Times noted, “and about double what Senator Cory Booker had raised in donations from February through the end of September.”
Bloomberg, a former Republican, has not yet decided to enter the 2020 presidential race, but Politico reported earlier this year that he is willing to spend at least $500 million on the 2020 elections.
The billionaire’s ad buy on Friday was reportedly the largest single buy that the tracking firm Advertising Analytics has ever recorded.
Sanders’ presidential campaign, which has rejected billionaire cash and is fueled almost entirely by small-dollar donations, reportedly plans to spend heavily on television advertisements in the first four 2020 primary states with the goal of reaching people who have become disaffected with the political process.
On Tuesday, as Common Dreams reported, Sanders became the fastest presidential candidate in history to reach four million individual campaign contributions.