Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, one of two Democratic billionaires who sought a bid for the White House this year but has since bowed out, is planning to pour a whopping $18 million into the Democratic National Committee's organizing efforts ahead of a highly-anticipated 2020 general election.
The transfer of Bloomberg's multi-million dollar investment to the national party, instead of into a parallel effort, will strengthen the DNC's "Battleground Build-Up" 2020 program across at least 12 battleground states, as part of their ongoing campaign to ready their general election infrastructure before the matchup with President Donald Trump.
"Our country is in crisis, and a change in presidential leadership is more important now than ever to protect our families, our communities and our economy," said DNC Chair Tom Perez in a statement. "With this transfer from the Bloomberg campaign, Mayor Bloomberg and his team are making good on their commitment to beating Donald Trump."
Earlier this month, Bloomberg suffered bruising losses on Super Tuesday, ultimately ending his presidential bid and endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden, after spending more than half a billion dollars of his estimated $60 billion fortune in the first 100 days of his campaign.
Bloomberg and his aides initially signaled a plan that would keep offices and staff working in key states through the general election in November. But now, the longtime philanthropist, who vowed to support whomever the eventual Democratic nominee is and Democrats up and the ballot during the campaign, is scrapping his original plan by transferring those offices to the DNC's state parties and laying off remaining campaign staff. While it is unclear if the DNC will hire these staffers, they are extending staff insurance and benefits through April.
"While our campaign has ended, Mike’s number one objective this year remains defeating Trump and helping Democrats win in November," a memo from the Bloomberg 2020 campaign reads. "There is no greater threat to our Democracy than the current occupant in the White House, and Mike launched his campaign with the fundamental goal of defeating him and energizing Democratic victories up and down the ballot. We therefore believe the best thing we can all do over the next eight months is to help the group that matters most in this fight: the Democratic National Committee."
Bloomberg's announcement frustrated some of his former staffers who hoped to continue working for the deep-pocketed billionaire's post-campaign operation in the battleground states.
“This is a Trump move,” a former Bloomberg campaign staffer, whose paycheck and insurance runs out at the end of March, told ABC News about the news of the layoffs Friday.
The staffer said they were told they’d have work through November on the Bloomberg payroll when hired, and had heard senior staff repeat the commitments about working through November.
The memo from the Bloomberg team notes that while they considered "creating our own independent entity" to bolster the Democratic nominee in a competitive race with Trump, they decided to divert their war chest to the DNC instead.
"This race is too important to have many competing groups with good intentions but that are not coordinated and united in strategy and execution," the memo says.
Bloomberg's contribution appears to rely on the campaign finance loophole allowing campaigns to transfer unlimited funds to party committees in an election year.
As an individual, Bloomberg is only allowed to contribute approximately $35,000 a year to the DNC. But he can transfer unlimited money to his own campaign, which in turn can transfer an unlimited amount of funding to the party.
Incredible. Candidates may transfer leftover campaign funds to the party, but I don't believe that loophole has ever been exploited in this way and to this degree.
It guarantees that Bloomberg will retain enormous influence over the Democratic Party. https://t.co/HndTy2ynhZ— Brendan Fischer (@brendan_fischer) March 20, 2020
This isn't expected to be the only donation from Bloomberg to the committee. Bloomberg isn't ruling out future contributions to the DNC, other committees, or running advertisements against the president or in support of Democrats.
"The general election is just starting and there will be more to come," a Bloomberg aide told ABC News when asked about future contributions from the former mayor, who is worth an estimated $60 billion.
"The dynamics of the race have also fundamentally changed, and it is critically important that we all do everything we can to support our eventual nominee and scale the Democratic Party’s general election effort," the Bloomberg memo says. "We hope this investment will dramatically expand the DNC’s Battleground Build-Up 2020 efforts across battleground states, drawing in part from our own incredibly experienced and talented organizing staff."
The Biden campaign, which is currently leading in the delegate race in the two-man Democratic primary with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, applauded Bloomberg's move.
"We welcome the announcement of Mayor Bloomberg's extraordinary investment to ensure that happens," said Kate Bedingfield, Biden's Deputy campaign manager and communications director. "We need to compete with the war chest that Donald Trump, the RNC, and their right-wing allies have amassed, and this will go a long way in ensuring that we can fund the grassroots efforts in key battleground states that will be necessary to win this November."
Bloomberg's massive investment comes after national Democrats launched the battleground program in January, and made two multi-million dollar installments into the effort, which aims to lay the groundwork for Democrats up and down the ballot, including for the eventual nominee across Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Texas and Virginia.
The investment from Bloomberg, which surpasses the DNC's total fundraising from the month of February, which stands at $12.8 million, will allow for the party to fund "more organizers across the country to elect the next president and help Democrats win up and down the ballot," Perez said.
"The DNC has made early, historic investments in our battleground and general election programs, and the additional organizers we're putting on the ground will significantly bolster those efforts and help make sure Donald Trump is a one-term president," he continued.
The DNC's fundraising total from February is only the second time that national Democrats have raked in more than $10 million in both January and February - and the first time without holding the White House -- and it comes after the committee has struggled to find its way out of debt so far this cycle. In its most recent filing that discloses its finances from January, the DNC had $6 million in debt, and has been lagging behind its GOP counterpart, the Republican National Committee, which holds a fundraising advantage since the RNC has joined forces with the president to raise money.
But Bloomberg isn't only offering his campaign cash. His campaign will also transfer ownership of several of its former field offices to Democratic state parties, which will "accelerate the hiring pace for important positions in organizing, data, and operations across the battleground states," according to the DNC.
For his part, this is not Bloomberg's first donation to Democrats this cycle. Late last year, Bloomberg donated $10 million to the House Majority PAC to help defend vulnerable House Democrats during the impeachment of the president - a move that came as the party faced a slew of well-financed Republican attacks on their support of moving forward with impeaching Trump.
Bloomberg also has a long history of deep-pocketed donations to help back candidates and causes. On the trail he often points to the help he gave House Democrats in the 2018 midterms -- where he spent upwards of $110 million -- and 21 of the 24 candidates he supported won their races.
ABC News' Sasha Pezenik contributed to this report.
Bloomberg to transfer $18 million to national Democrats' 2020 battleground efforts originally appeared on abcnews.go.com