Bloomberg Poured $650 Million of Own Money Into NYC

Image: Bloomberg Poured $650 Million of Own Money Into NYC

Monday, 30 Dec 2013 08:02 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent at least $650 million of his own fortune on the city during his 12 years in office.

The money was used for advocacy work, social causes, travel, charitable giving, and much more during his 12 years as mayor, according to a report in Monday's New York Times.

For example, when he was elected, Bloomberg had two giant aquariums installed in City Hall, and paid the tab of $62,400 over 12 years to keep them clean.

He also spent $890,000 over 12 years buying his staff breakfast and lunch every day.

The Times said it relied on public documents, travel records, conversations and interviews, and philanthropy records, and admits its $650 million estimate is likely low because there were no current annual reports ready yet for several of the organizations the outgoing mayor financed.

One of Bloomberg's largest expenses, according to city records, was for private plane travel. He spent about $6 million when he took his aides and others on trips.

But the spending didn't stop there. The man who took just $1 a year in salary for being mayor spent $268 million of his own money campaigning for his three terms in office, pushing the total personal cost of being mayor close to $1 billion.

New York's arts, health, cultural, and civic groups particularly benefited, with $263 million coming in from Bloomberg's personal fortune and through his corporation, Bloomberg LP. He also spent $23 million in campaign donations, The Times reports, and spent $5 million to renovate Gracie Mansion, the mayor's official residence, although he chose to live in his own home.

Harold Holzer, a senior vice president at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said the mayor's $30 million in donations paid for audio guides and wireless internet, "reaching everyone who walks through our doors." A smaller donation, of $100,000 annually to the Queens Theater in the Park, was "beyond our realm of comprehension," said former director Jeffrey Rosenstock.

But New Yorkers were divided on Bloomberg's wealth. A Times poll in August showed just one third of the residents thought his wealth made him a better mayor.

Incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio, the first Democrat to win the post in 20 years, will be sworn in on Wednesday by former President Bill Clinton. He defeated Republican rival Joe Lhota by promising to bridge the gap between rich and poor in the nation's largest city.

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