During Tuesday’s debate, Bill Thompson accused Michael Bloomberg of participating in “pay-to-endorse” politics, and said charitable donations Bloomberg gives to non-profit organizations results in them doing him political favors, like speaking out in favor of extending term limits.
At the debate, Bloomberg denied this, saying, “It’d be a pretty expensive way to buy a vote,” and “I think most people who get the gifts probably don’t even know where the money comes for a start.”
Before receiving an award today from the Carnegie Foundation for his charitable giving, I asked Bloomberg if he thought greater disclosure about his charitable givings would help disprove the pay-to-endorse criticism.
“We put out the list, I’m sorry you’re not on the list. I’ll make sure you get it,” Bloomberg said.
“We put it out every single year. We’ve been doing it for eight years, just so you’re sure that there isn’t any. And you’re welcome to call any of them. But they are, every single one, and also, not just me, and or my foundation, but and or the company as well, so that nobody thinks we’re trying to do something. I’ve always thought, and the only reason I put it out is so that you can be assured there is no conflict. Other than that, I happen to think it’s personal business. But in this case, I have certainly divulged who we have given money to and the total amount of money that we’ve given, every single year.”
A spokesman for Bloomberg later said some contributions Bloomberg’s company gives out are through programs where the company automatically matches donations made by their employees. Other donations are facilitated through groups like the Carnegie Foundation, whose recipients do not know that the money originated from the mayor.
A spokesman for Thompson called the mayor’s remarks today “laughable” and said the list of charitable donations, as the mayor described them, has never been made public.