Politics

Mike Bloomberg is assembling a team of fundraising experts to recruit wealthy donors – but not to take their money

Key Points
  • Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is creating a team of fundraising experts to recruit wealthy donors. But he doesn't want their money. He wants them to act as surrogates for his campaign.
  • In recent weeks, Bloomberg has tapped veteran fundraising consultant Shari Yost Gold as a senior advisor for this effort, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
  • Many of the Bloomberg team's targets are backing other candidates, but the effort could potentially put pressure on the donors to withhold funds from other contenders.
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg greets supporters at the end of his campaign event "Women for Mike" in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, January 15, 2020.
Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is creating a team of fundraising experts to recruit wealthy donors. But he doesn't want their money. He wants them to act as surrogates for his campaign.

In recent weeks, Bloomberg has tapped veteran fundraising consultant Shari Yost Gold as a senior advisor for this effort, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter who declined to be named as these decisions have been made in private. Her consulting firm previously worked for Sen. Kamala Harris' 2020 campaign, Federal Election Commission records show.

Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who has a net worth of just over $59 billion, also brought on at least four other fundraising experts. Several also have ties to Harris, including her finance directors Amanda Bailey, Stephanie Sass and Rebecca Keate, the sources said. Another recruit for Bloomberg is Kimberly Peeler-Allen, the co-chair of Higher Heights for America Political Action Committee, which focuses on encouraging black women to vote for the group's endorsed candidates, another source added.

The goal for the program, as explained to CNBC, is to create a "loyalty group" for Bloomberg's campaign, according to one of the organizers. This person said that they are "raising people" instead of raising money.

Many of their targets are backing other candidates, but Bloomberg's move could potentially put pressure on the donors to withhold funds from other contenders.

A Real Clear Politics polling average shows that Bloomberg is rising in national polls of the Democratic primary field. He is in fifth place, gaining on former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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Julie Wood, a spokeswoman for the campaign, confirmed in a statement that they've been asking Democratic power players to share Bloomberg's plans for his run for president with their networks, and to encourage their allies to donate to various Democratic causes.

"As you've previously reported, the Bloomberg campaign is recruiting a broad group of supporters who are interested in defeating Donald Trump," Wood said. "We're asking these supporters to vote for Mike, donate to Democrats up and down the ballot and reach out to their networks to share Mike's record of accomplishment and plans for getting things done."

Wood also separately confirmed that the consultants previously mentioned in this story are conducting outreach to allies and potential supporters of Bloomberg's campaign.

The team has been reaching out to Democratic donors on Wall Street, in legal circles, media executives and even those in the medical field for surrogate support, the sources said. Jon Henes, a New York-based bankruptcy attorney and a financial supporter of front-runner Joe Biden's, has seen outreach from the Bloomberg bundlers, the sources said. In Hollywood, people close to film executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, who has donated to a wide range of candidates, have also heard from the Bloomberg team.

Bloomberg's team has been asking various financiers to call on their donor networks to vote for Bloomberg, publicly endorse his campaign, reach out to aides for more information on their path to victory, and even to try to take part in briefings with Bloomberg himself.

So far the efforts have been focused on getting help from donors who have contacts in crucial states such as California, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois. All of the primaries in those states are scheduled for March, and the winners will land a bevy of delegates. Bloomberg has already put $200 million into TV ads that are airing in these delegate-rich states. Bloomberg recently surpassed Trump in Google ad spending with a total of $18 million in investments

In between his stops on the campaign trail, Bloomberg has met with some of the same business leaders that his fundraisers are targeting. Last month, he huddled with Wall Street executives and other New York luminaries to brief them on how he thinks he can win the Democratic primary. At the time, his aides showed a map highlighting Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Bloomberg had a similar meeting with Silicon Valley leaders on Thursday, Recode reported. Venture capitalist Ron Conway, who initially guided Bloomberg with the creation of his data company, Hawkfish, planned to attend the event.

On that same trip to California, Bloomberg was slated to headline a fundraiser Friday for the Democratic National Committee in Beverly Hills at the home of Lynda and Stewart Resnick who own The Wonderful Company, with a portfolio including FIJI Water, POM Wonderful, Wonderful Pistachios & Wonderful Almonds, Wonderful Halos and JUSTIN Wines. At the event will be music executive Nicole Avant and her husband, Netflix executive Ted Sarandos, a person briefed on the matter said.

Avant and Sarandos been longtime donors to the Democratic Party. While she is listed as a bundler for Buttigieg, Avant has also contributed to various other primary contenders for president, records show.

Avant has not heard from Bloomberg's team, but her name has been mentioned within the former mayor's group as someone that could be convinced to help his effort.