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Facebook Posts Mislead on Bloomberg Donation


Quick Take

Misleading Facebook posts accuse former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg of “bribing” House Democrats by offering a donation “if they vote to impeach” President Donald Trump. In fact, Bloomberg is a major Democratic donor who has given to this committee before.


Full Story 

Michael Bloomberg, the wealthy former New York City mayor running for president in 2020, recently announced he would give $10 million to aid fellow Democrats in House races next year.

The donation, first made public in a Dec. 11 Washington Post story, was made to the House Majority PAC — an outside political action committee dedicated to expanding, or maintaining, Democratic control of the House.

But posts shared on Facebook claim that “Bloomberg says he will donate 10 million to House Dems if they vote to impeach Trump.” He didn’t say that.

“Wow!” the posts read. “Bribing Politicians on National TV.”

That’s wrong.

Caitlin Legacki, a spokeswoman for the super PAC, told us that the group received Bloomberg’s donation on Dec. 16 — two days before the House voted on and passed two articles of impeachment. However, Legacki said Bloomberg does not control how that money will be used.

“There were no strings attached, nor were there any conditions placed on the funds,” Legacki told us by email. Legacki pointed out that the Post story noted that “decisions about the targeting and messaging” funded by Bloomberg’s contribution would be made by House Majority PAC.

“At this point, no decisions have been made about how that money will be spent,” she said.

It’s worth noting that Bloomberg is a major donor to Democratic and liberal causes. He spent about $95 million in the 2018 cycle — much of it to his own super PAC, which poured money into electing Democratic congressional candidates.

In fact, he has given to the House Majority PAC before his most recent contribution. He gave nearly $2.8 million to the super PAC between 2014 and 2018, according to the Federal Election Commission.

The Post’s story said that Bloomberg’s money would help “defend vulnerable Democratic House members against paid Republican attacks on their support for impeachment proceedings against President Trump.” But that is not the same as Bloomberg offering a “quid-pro-quo,” as one Facebook commenter called it.

Looking to 2020, Democrats are seeking to support vulnerable incumbents who represent congressional districts that had voted for President Donald Trump in 2016. As a commentary piece published by the polling firm Rasmussen Reports observed after the 2018 elections, when the Democrats won the majority: “Republicans will need to make some of these new members one-term wonders to have any hope of retaking the House.”

The Post story also referenced the fact that Republican groups recently committed “$10 million” in ads “to attack Democratic members of Congress in their districts for embracing what one spot calls the ‘impeachment charade’ in lieu of other legislative priorities.”

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

2018 Top Donors to Outside Spending Groups.” OpenSecrets.gov. Accessed 20 Dec 2019.

Individual contributions.” Federal Election Commission. Accessed 19 Dec 2019.

Legacki, Caitlin. Communications director, House Majority PAC. Email to FactCheck.org. 18 Dec 2019.

Scherer, Michael. “Mike Bloomberg to donate $10 million to House Democrats targeted by GOP.” Washington Post. 11 Dec 2019.