FEC Asks Michael Bloomberg to Clarify Campaign Spending

The Federal Election Commission faulted Michael Bloomberg’s campaign Thursday for the way it reported its spending, including $14 million in pre-payments to his company for campaign expenses.

The campaign made an unusual advanced payment in the fourth quarter of 2019 to compensate Bloomberg LP for consultants, the use of the company’s airplane, terminal rentals and other purposes.

(Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)

The FEC, which oversees compliance with campaign finance law, asked the campaign to clarify the purpose of expenditures the campaign described as “Prepayment of Campaign Expenses.” A campaign is required to indicate what its money is being spent on and identify each recipient of more than $200 in an election cycle.

Bloomberg is spending record amounts of his own money on his Democratic presidential campaign. As of Jan. 31, he had spent $409 million on his campaign, more than any other presidential candidate.

“We are working with the FEC to ensure they have all the necessary information and will continue to comply with their regulations,” Bloomberg campaign spokesman Julie Wood said.

The agency also said that Bloomberg’s out-of-pocket expenditures on behalf of the campaign required itemization. So did payments the campaign described as stipends which, the FEC wrote, appear to be made from petty cash, which cannot exceed $100.

The stipends, totaling $9,911.06, covered housing for one campaign staffer and health care for a second.

Bloomberg’s in-kind expenditures on behalf of the campaign totaled $66 million, with the largest expense, $58 million, paid to the firm that buys advertising time for his campaign, before he formally became a candidate.

The FEC asked Bloomberg’s campaign to respond to the letter, called a request for additional information, by March 26. Generally, committees can file an amended report in response to requests for additional information without further penalties.

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