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The accusation from his fellow Democratic presidential contenders is that Mike Bloomberg is trying to buy the White House. But his ambitions are bigger than that — he’s trying to buy America.

For the media mega-billionaire, winning the presidency is not enough. Once he gets into office, he hopes to assure himself the least resistance possible to imposing his vision on the American people.

That’s why, along with the $2 billion he’s pledged to devote to his own campaign, he’s spent hundreds of millions more to elect congressional Democrats and fund organizations that push his pet progressive causes.

The Associated Press investigative report that appears nearby details how Bloomberg’s presidential campaign is buoyed by politicians and political activists who have benefited from his money.

More: Opinion: Bloomberg’s influence stretches far and wide

The Bloomberg machine includes more than 100 mayors across America who’ve been trained by organizations he’s funded or whose cities have received grants from his various philanthropies. It’s also aided by members of Congress, at least 15 of whom have endorsed him so far.

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Rep. Haley Stevens, D- Rochester Hills, is among them. Stevens and fellow freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, each received more than $2 million from Bloomberg in 2018. They were among the 40 new Democratic reps who gave the party control of the House.

During Tuesday night’s debate, Bloomberg said of that freshman class: “Twenty-one of those were people that I spent $100 million to help elect. All of the new Democrats that came in, put Nancy Pelosi in charge, and gave the Congress the ability to control this president, I bough—I got them.”

The near Freudian slip was revealing. A presidential candidate who spends an average of nearly $5 million each to elect congress members understandably might consider they’ll be bought and paid for once he takes office.

Congress members beholden to the president for their election are in a poor position to check his power, particularly if they fear he’ll shift his money to an opponent should they become difficult.

Bloomberg, whose personal wealth is pegged at $60 billion, is taking transactional politics to levels never seen in this country. His strategic spending in the Virginia Legislature last fall flipped that body to Democratic control. Once seated, it immediately began pushing gun control measures, which are near the top of Bloomberg’s agenda.

Copying George Soros, his fellow Democratic billionaire, Bloomberg is backing a number of activist groups that push tighter gun and environmental laws, among other issues dear to him. They’re structured to give the appearance of grass roots movements, but in reality are financed almost entirely by Bloomberg.

It’s a strategy that short-circuits democracy. Instead of doing the hard work to move public opinion, Bloomberg can pay activists to pressure policy-makers and make it appear as if a cause has broader public support than it actually enjoys.

Bloomberg’s capability to spend massive amounts to get the outcomes he wants from the political system greatly multiplies the one vote he’s guaranteed by the Constitution. 

Add to that the fact that he owns and operates a major news service that has critically scrutinized President Donald Trump, but will not investigate the Bloomberg presidential campaign. 

Not to sound like Bernie Sanders, but voters should be wary when billionaires like Mike Bloomberg deploy their vast fortunes to reshape the country to match their personal vision of an ideal America. Democracy should be the one thing money can’t buy. 

nfinley@detroitnews.com

Twitter @NolanFinleyDN

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