Back already? Bloomberg launches new buy-the-election effort 24 hours after leaving it

Maybe that headline’s just a tad bit unfair. Michael Bloomberg tried to buy the Democratic nomination for himself first. This time he’s going to try to buy the White House for someone else. With Bloomberg as landlord, no doubt.

The Washington Post gets the scoop on Bloomberg’s as-yet-untitled PAC, in which he’ll keep his campaign staff duly employed for another few months. Gee, which poor-organizing candidate might that benefit? Hmmmmmm:

Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg has decided to form an independent expenditure campaign that will absorb hundreds of his presidential campaign staffers in six swing states to work to elect the Democratic nominee this fall.

The group, with a name that is still undisclosed because its trademark application is in process, would also be a vehicle for Bloomberg to spend money on advertising to attack President Trump and support the Democratic nominee, according to a person familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. …

The new group, operating with the same potentially limitless bankroll that funded Bloomberg’s campaign, could play a major role in shaping the race this fall. Bloomberg, who is worth more than $50 billion, also has not ruled out using the group to spend money to support former vice president Joe Biden during his primary fight against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Bloomberg dropped out of the race Wednesday.

This is about as custom-fit for Joe Biden as possible, isn’t it? Biden’s weaknesses are organization and fundraising. Bloomberg’s got an organization on the ground already (in “six swing states,” anyway) and room to expand. The former mayor just burned through somewhere between $500-700 million over the last four months and ended up with bupkis, but Biden’s got a head start and some momentum now in the primaries. Another half-billion dollars will help alleviate the need for Biden to raise his own money to cover staff expenses. At least as long as he keeps Bloomberg happy, of course.

This is, however, a yuuuuge gift to Bernie Sanders in another way. Sanders just accused Biden of being a stooge of corporate interests, and here comes one of the corporate world’s most wealthy men to essentially acquire Biden & Co. Now Biden’s not just a stooge, he’s a subsidiary of corporate interests — in fact, the corporate interest (Bloomberg’s investment wire service) that helps grease the wheels of Wall Street. If it’s possible to inflame passions among Sanders’ followers even more — and make a later rapprochement even less likely — Bloomberg’s doing his best to achieve it.

Making this even tastier in that sense, the Center for Public Integrity has a new report questioning the timing of Bloomberg’s exit from the race. His re-entry as a PAC man will have Dave Levinthal working overtime on this question — did Bloomberg quit abruptly to avoid filing required asset disclosures to the FEC? Starting in December, Bloomberg sought two extensions on the 30-day deadline, with the latest due date coming in just two weeks:

“Mr. Bloomberg … has made diligent efforts to prepare his report,” Norton wrote the FEC. “Nevertheless, due to the complexity of his holdings and the need to obtain certain information from third parties, Mr. Bloomberg needs additional time to gather and review his financial information and complete and file his report.”

The FEC again gave Bloomberg 45 more days. The former mayor of New York City and Bloomberg LP mogul needn’t file his personal financial disclosure form until March 20 — after Bloomberg had already pumped more than half a billion dollars of his own money into his campaign and after millions of Democrats cast ballots during Super Tuesday primaries.

Small hitch: Bloomberg is now a former presidential candidate. As such, he is no longer under legal obligation to disclose the sources of his wealth or any creditors he owes, according to guidance from the FEC and Office of Government Ethics.

In essence, Bloomberg ran out the clock on transparency.

As Levinthal later points out, Sanders himself has has a few transparency issues, which might lessen the impact of an attack on Bloomberg over this. Nonetheless, it’s still there as red meat for his anti-corporate tirades and his anti-corporate following to chew on.

As for Biden, he’d better not count too much on this help. Bloomberg’s money didn’t do much when it was spent to boost the guy Bloomberg esteems the most — himself — so it’s far from clear it will do Biden more good than harm in the end. Besides, Bernie’s not the only one with a potential narrative emerging from this. Donald Trump will have a field day laying this out as the very swamp he wanted to drain all along, and some of those anti-corporate types might just come along for the ride on that basis.