Bloomberg, Steyer lavish campaign spending includes food tab

Quiches, smoked salmon with capers, gourmet food trucks featured at the billionaires' events

The two billionaires in the Democratic presidential race, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg, have used their fortunes to self-fund their campaigns by pouring millions into everything from 2020 advertisements to hiring hundreds of social media influencers.

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Their tabs also include offering unprecedented amounts of free, and often lavish, food and booze to woo potential voters, according to two separate Eater reports published this week.

Bloomberg, the three-time New York City mayor who’s worth a staggering $60 billion, according to Forbes, is putting out sumptuous spreads. Last week, on the first day of early voting in North Carolina, Bloomberg offered an all-you-can eat feast of quiches, smoked salmon with capers and chopped eggs, a fruit platter, cookies and assorted pastries to event-goers.

At Steyer’s events, the hedge fund billionaire, who’s spent nearly $200 million on campaign advertising, adopted a more laid-back approach to food. At an event outside of the Culinary Union headquarters in Las Vegas, he had a food truck called Las Delicias de Mexico handing out tacos and the Cookie Bar, another truck, serving cookies and hot chocolate. Both truck owners declined to tell Eater how much they were paid.

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The food has become a hallmark of Bloomberg's campaign events throughout the country. Even as he eschews a traditional campaign — he skipped the four early-voting states and is not accepting individual donations, instead, he's relying on his massive fortune — he’s adhering to the old adage that the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach.

At a Miami rally in late January, Bloomberg’s campaign served wine to voters, alongside Cuban sandwiches and kosher pigs in a blanket. Then, two weeks ago, in Philadelphia, more than 1,000 attendees were offered hoagies, honeyed brie and cheesesteaks compliments of Bloomberg.

The 78-year-old billionaire has already spent an estimated $400 million on advertisements throughout the election, and he has suggested he’s willing to spend at least $1 billion as he vies to become the Democratic nominee to take on President Trump in the November general election.

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The huge ad blitz, a swath of which is concentrated on the 14, delegate-rich states that will cast their ballots on March 3, or Super Tuesday, has elevated him to third place nationally, according to an aggregate of polls by RealClearPolitics, and that has secured him a spot on the ninth debate in Nevada on Wednesday.

Although Congress passed a law in 1948 banning the use of expenditures to influence voting, Bloomberg offers the food and drink freely, and not in exchange for the promise of a particular vote, making the practice perfectly legal.

Eater reported that traditionally, campaigns stick to the basics when it comes to food: Pizza and bagels. A press director for former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign said they typically stick with pizza or homemade sweets.

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The Culinary Union, one of the most powerful forces in Nevada politics with a 60,000 strong membership, is not endorsing anyone in this election cycle.