Michael Bloomberg spent at least $650 million dollars of his own money being mayor of New York, a number that includes expenditures on everything from political campaigns, staffing needs and travel, to two giant aquariums filled with tropical fish he paid to build and maintain in City Hall.
According to an analysis by The New York Times, Bloomberg lavished hundreds of millions of dollars while mayor. Some of that money ($268 million, to be exact) was spent on his three campaigns for mayor, or on campaign donations to others ($23 million), but he also paid for staff and security to travel with him by private plane. One multi-day trip to China, for instance, cost him $500,000.
Bloomberg’s largesse included $263 million in donations to the city’s arts, civic, health and cultural groups. He even spent $5 million renovating the mayoral residence he never inhabited, preferring instead to live in his own mansion nearby.
As Bloomberg prepares to leave office at midnight on Tuesday, New Yorkers remain divided on the question of whether his personal wealth made a difference to his mayoralty. Critics say his munificence was mere pandering to voters, while supporters say his riches freed him from the influence of interest groups. A New York Times poll conducted in August found that 27% said his wealth made him a worse mayor, 30% said it made him better, and 35% said it made no difference.