An $18 million contribution to the Democratic National Committee bought billionaire Democrat Mike Bloomberg just five minutes of speaking time during Thursday night's convention.
Bloomberg announced his speaking role on August 13, sparking opposition from liberal activists. In a letter released Monday, a group of former Bloomberg campaign staffers called on DNC chairman Tom Perez to remove the billionaire from the proceedings. The staffers, who are also suing Bloomberg for wrongful termination, said they "do not believe there is a place on the convention stage for people like Mike Bloomberg who make a mockery of workers' rights."
But the billionaire appears to have bought the right to stay in the party's good graces. Bloomberg gave $18 million to the DNC in March, meaning he spent $3.6 million for every minute of convention speaking time. He pledged an additional $60 million on Monday to boost House Democrats in the upcoming November election. Bloomberg has also bolstered Democrats through a gun control group that has pledged to spend $60 million in the 2020 election. Despite pouring millions into anti-gun bills, Bloomberg did not mention the issue in his DNC remarks.
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The barrage of spending has not been enough for some party activists. Bloomberg, who spent more than $1 billion on his failed presidential campaign, did not rule out contributing an additional $1 billion to defeat Trump in a January interview with the New York Times. The Democrat, however, has not given directly to Democratic nominee Joe Biden's campaign, nor has he given to a number of prominent Biden-aligned groups.
Bloomberg also reneged on a promise to keep his presidential campaign staff on his payroll through November regardless of his status in the race, prompting a class-action lawsuit. He encouraged disgruntled former aides to apply for jobs at the DNC created by his $18 million contribution.
Bloomberg faced criticism from Biden during the Democratic primary over allegations of sexism. The billionaire's company, Bloomberg L.P., has received a slew of legal complaints alleging a "culture of sexual harassment." One former employee said that after learning she was pregnant, Bloomberg responded, "Kill it." Some Bloomberg employees were unable to discuss their experiences due to non-disclosure agreements, which Biden condemned.
"You think that women, in fact, were ready to say, ‘I don't want anyone to know about what you did to me?'" Biden said during a February debate. "That's not how it works. The way it works is … the mayor comes along and his attorneys say, ‘I will give you this amount of money if you promise you'll never say anything.'"
When Bloomberg went on to release just three women from the agreements, Biden campaign manager Kate Bedingfield called on the billionaire to "dispense with tricks and come clean."
Biden also criticized Bloomberg over his stop-and-frisk policing policy, which gave New York police officers the authority to stop anyone suspected of committing a crime. In a February tweet, Biden noted that of the 685,724 people stopped "at the height" of the program, "nearly 80 percent were black or latino" and "nearly 90 percent were innocent."
"He defended it as recently as this year," Biden said. "Who does he think he's fooling?"
Bloomberg spoke directly before Biden during Thursday's convention proceedings. The Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment regarding Bloomberg's inclusion.
It is unclear whether Bloomberg, who has a well-documented history of standing on boxes to increase his height, stood on an elevated surface during his Thursday speech.