Former NYC mayor spent $3M to support Gov. Snyder

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington – — Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg donated $3 million to Gov. Rick Snyder’s re-election campaign — the most he contributed to any candidate as part of a $40 million effort.

The billionaire majority owner of the media conglomerate Bloomberg LP, backed five Republican winners including Snyder, though many Democrats he backed lost. Bloomberg also backed U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, who won his race for U.S. Senate.

Bloomberg told Politico Snyder is “an extremely competent guy who took on the unions to get Detroit and Michigan going in the right direction. And he was re-elected despite being attacked by the unions.”

Snyder signed “Right to Work” legislation in December 2012 following an unsuccessful bid by unions to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state constitution. Unions also worked aggressively to try to defeat Snyder in his re-election bid.

Last month, Bloomberg’s Independence USA political action committee launched a major TV ad buy worth at least $2.3 million on behalf of Snyder. A male narrator in Independence USA’s ad declared Michigan is “coming back” and that Snyder is “the governor who put partisanship aside, made the hard decisions and delivered results.”

The ad’s narrator also touts “higher graduation rates, more school funding” and more public charter schools under Snyder’s watch.

Bloomberg held a fundraiser for Snyder in June at his New York home, which Democrats have criticized Snyder for attending at the height of legislative road funding negotiations that ultimately stalled in the state Senate after the governor returned to Lansing. Both appeared together at forums touting immigration.

Last year, Bloomberg said every U.S. city needs to heed the lesson of Detroit’s recent bankruptcy filing and urged cities to diversify their economies.

“Avoiding the hard choices is how Detroit went bankrupt. And it’s the road to ruin for any city,” Bloomberg said last year.

“I believe that the Detroit experience holds lessons for every American city — and that we have an obligation to protect our future by examining those lessons.”

Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy restructuring in July 2013, citing more than $18.5 billion in debt, the largest American city to file for bankruptcy. About half of its debt is pension and retiree health care costs. A judge last week approved its plan to exit cutting $7 billion in debt.

"Now, it would be easy to sit back and think that what happened in Detroit could not happen here in New York City. But the truth is it did almost happen here, back in 1975. And while we have traveled a long way since then, we would be foolish to ignore the factors that drove Detroit to bankruptcy," Bloomberg said.

The Big Apple nearly went bankrupt in 1975 with $14 billion in debt with a deficit of about $2.2 billion, but won a reprieve when Congress and President Gerald Ford approved $2.3 billion in short-term loans and required dramatic fiscal restructuring to get the city's books in order.

Bloomberg has taken an interest in Detroit for several years. In May 2011 he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” he wants to let all immigrants come to the United States if they agreed to move to the Motor City.

"If I were the federal government, assuming we could wave a magic wand and pull everybody together, you pass a law letting immigrants come in as long as they agree to go to Detroit and live there for five to 10 years, start businesses, take jobs or whatever," he said. “You would populate Detroit overnight because half the world wants to come here.”

In May 2013 — touting New York's record low murder rate — Bloomberg highlighted Detroit's high murder rate. This week, the FBI confirmed Detroit again has the nation’s highest murder rate among large cities.

New York has more than 11 times the Motor City population, but recorded only a few additional murders than Detroit in 2012.

"Last year, we had a record-low 419 murders. If instead we had Detroit's murder rate, 4,500-plus New Yorkers would have been murdered last year," the mayor's office wrote on Twitter.