By Isaac Cohen*
Have you ever heard of a politician who donated $650 million of his own money to finance his tenure of twelve years in office? Personally, I had never heard such a thing, until The New York Times front page revealed it, last December 30, one day before the end of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s third term. Fascinating about this fact is that it was not widely known, outside of inner circles, during the twelve years Michael Bloomberg was mayor of New York City.
For instance, the Queens Theater in the Park received an anonymous yearly donation of $100,000 during Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure. His generosity also included daily activities, such as funding breakfast and lunch for his staff, for twelve years, at a cost of $890,000 of his own money. Official travel in private airplanes, for $6 million, was financed by the Mayor from his own pocket.
Additionally, he supported campaigns on specific issues, such as gun control ($7.5 million) immigration reform ($5.7 million), or $30 million to fund a city program to support disadvantaged Afro-Americans and Hispanics. He did not accept his salary during twelve years, worth $2.7 million, because he was paid $1 a year. He also refused to live in the official residence, but paid $5 million of his own money to renovate it.
True, he spent a total of $268 million in his three electoral campaigns, but he also donated $263 million to charitable causes.
*International analyst and consultant. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio. Former Director, UNECLAC Washington Office.