News Column

Michael Bloomberg, Public Servant

January 21, 2014

Isaac Cohen --

michael bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg (file photo)

Have you ever heard of a politician who donated $650 million of his own money to finance his tenure of 12 years in office? Personally, I had never heard such a thing, until The New York Times front page revealed it on Dec. 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 12 years Mr. Bloomberg was mayor of New York City.

For instance, the Queens Theater in the Park received an anonymous yearly donation of $100,000 during Mr. Bloomberg's tenure. His generosity also included daily activities, such as funding breakfast and lunch for his staff, for 12 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) and a city program to support disadvantaged African Americans and Hispanics ($30 million). He did not accept his salary during 12 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.


Isaac Cohen is an international analyst and consultant, a commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Espaņol TV and radio, and a former director, UNECLAC Washington Office.

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