This 26 December 2019 video from the USA says about itself:
The Young Turks Contributor Ryan Grim breaks down 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s exploitation of prison labor to make campaign phone calls.
By Patrick Martin in the USA:
27 December 2019
The two billionaire candidates seeking the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party have already spent more than $200 million, according to figures reported by Politico this week, at least three times the combined spending of all other Democratic candidates.
Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is the ninth richest person in the United States, with a $58 billion fortune derived from his media and information technology empire. Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund operator, is reportedly worth about $2 billion.
Steyer has spent $83 million on advertising since he entered the race in July. Bloomberg has easily surpassed that total, pumping more than $120 million into media buys since he announced his candidacy last month.
The two candidates are pursuing opposite tactics in their vote-buying. Steyer has run a conventional campaign targeting the four early-voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. All four hold caucuses or primaries in February.
Bloomberg is skipping the four early states and focusing instead on the two-thirds of Democratic convention delegates who will be selected between March 3 and March 17. Given the scale of the voting, television and internet advertising will be the principal means of reaching voters. Bloomberg has already spent $13 million per state on advertising in California, Texas and Florida, the three biggest states among the March contests.
Nearly a year before the 2020 election, Bloomberg is advertising at a saturation level.
He launched his campaign with a media blitz in the final week of November that cost $33 million, more than the $25 million President Barack Obama’s campaign spent in the final week of his 2012 reelection campaign.
In many US cities, it is impossible to turn on the television or log onto the internet without seeing a commercial for Bloomberg. In one small market, Wilmington, North Carolina, Bloomberg ads have run up to 36 times a day on some stations.
Bloomberg has also begun to hire campaign operatives from the defunct campaigns of other rivals, including Beto O’Rourke and Kamala Harris, offering as much as double or triple the salaries.
In barely a month, Bloomberg has spent more than twice the combined advertising of every non-billionaire candidate in the Democratic field for the entire year. In the four early-voting states, Steyer has spent $37 million, twice as much as the combined spending of the four leading candidates—former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg.
The figures are stark: $120 million for Bloomberg, $83 million for Steyer, less than $60 million for the two dozen others, including six senators, three governors and five members of the House of Representatives. Buttigieg, who was the third-highest spender, paid for $19 million in advertising for the entire year.
So far, neither candidate has seen any obvious return on investment. Polls in the four early-voting states show Steyer at five percent or less in each, while Bloomberg’s massive and virtually nationwide media effort has pushed him up to seven percent in some polls. These figures would put either billionaire no higher than fifth in any state.
Bloomberg received a serious blow this week when the Intercept reported that his presidential campaign had hired a call center company that uses prison labor in Oklahoma as part of its operations. The company, ProCom, contracted with prisoners at a women’s prison in Oklahoma, the Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center, to make calls to California voters. The callers had to disclose at the end of any conversation with voters that they were contacting them on behalf of the Bloomberg campaign, but they did not have to reveal that they were calling them from a prison.
According to ProCom, the company pays the state Department of Corrections $7.25 an hour, the Oklahoma minimum wage, for each prisoner’s time. The Department of Corrections keeps most of the money, turning over a pittance to the prisoners. One study from 2017 found that Oklahoma prisoners received about 54 cents an hour for such contract work.
The Bloomberg campaign admitted that prisoners had been used to make calls on its behalf and announced it had terminated the deal with ProCom. Bloomberg posted an apology on his Twitter account conceding that the Intercept report had been correct.
Given the enormous popular hostility to the domination of American life by billionaires, which has found a distorted expression in the campaigns of both Sanders and Warren, it would require more than just unlimited amounts of money to win the presidency for Bloomberg or Steyer.
There are, of course, more billionaires in America than these two, and many of them are politically engaged in supporting one or another Democratic hopeful.
BLOOMBERG NEWS VIOLATES ITS CAMPAIGN COVERAGE RULES A Bloomberg News investigation into the fact that the campaigns of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) buy things from Amazon, allegedly at odds with their crusades against the corporate giant, violates an editorial policy adopted after the news outlet’s founder, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, entered the presidential race in November. [HuffPost]