New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg kept his word when he promised years ago to spend only his own money to run for mayor.
But New York billionaire Donald Trump — by most accounts significantly less wealthy than Bloomberg — doesn’t bankroll that way.
During the GOP primary season Trump derided those funded by “special interests” and said over and over: “I’m self-funding my own campaign. It’s my money.”
That was never 100 percent true, though he did spend way more out of pocket than other one-percenters who sought high office.
By the end of last year his campaign took in about $19.4 million of which he supplied nearly $13 million. The rest came from individual donors.
On campaign money, in this new phase of the race, his profile differs sharply from Hillary Clinton’s.
Her big-donor fundraising turned into a moral liability against the populist primary campaign of Bernie Sanders, who attacked her as being in the pocket of Wall Street.
But now all the pressure seems to be on Trump.
He had $1.3 million on hand at the beginning of the month; she had $42 million. And her Super PACs seemed to be collecting more than his so far.
She tweeted on Tuesday: “What is Trump spending his meager campaign resources on? Why, himself, of course.”
This was a reference to his latest filings showing campaign expenditures on more than 20 companies bearing the Trump name, from his golf clubs to his hotels.
The reason for the filing: When one of Trump’s corporate entities helps the campaign, which is legal, it has to be disclosed.
More importantly, Trump for the first time is forced to seek cash from Republican donors with the assistance of the party — both of which he publicly derided during debates.
Bill Cunningham, a former political and governmental aide to Bloomberg, said this Trump transition is a bit like “going from a privately held corporation to issuing stock.”
So Trump sent out an email that said, “This is the first fundraising email I have ever sent on behalf of my campaign. That’s right. The FIRST ONE.”
“And, I’m going to help make it the most successful introductory fundraising email in modern political history by personally matching every dollar that comes in WITHIN THE NEXT 48 HOURS, up to $2 million!”
The “match” gimmick is a way of showing that contributor and recipient are in the fight against Clinton together.
Here’s the spectacle of a purported “non-politician” from the business sector trying to scare up dollars like your average Congress member.
Whether he can or wishes to help himself out financially becomes the next question.
And as the season for big ads and ground games approaches, Clinton finally stands to reap the full benefits of being a party insider, practiced in the craft of collecting money from the Trumps of the world.