Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg lied last night when he said during the Democratic debate that he “put out” his “tax return every year for 12 years in City Hall.”

I have the ‘receipts’ for this assertion in the form of audio files and extensive reporting from my years covering him when I was at WNYC.

There are also a dozen years of news stories about Mayor Mike’s annual disclosure farce.

In 2012 I reported that we had the following exchange after a press conference on a new paving machine. I was working on an Occupy Wall Street inspired investigation into how the uber rich like Bloomberg structured their global wealth machines.

HENNELLY: Why won’t you disclose what you physically pay in taxes in terms of Federal taxes?

BLOOMBERG: There is no reason to. We have categories and I have a personal life. The accountants will tell you I pay 100 percent of my taxes. I don’t have tax shelters in the context you would talk about it. I pay what I am supposed to pay. We earn money all around the world.”

Last night in Las Vegas Bloomberg lie came in a response to a question from Hallie Jackson who framed it around “transparency”.

JACKSON: Mayor Bloomberg, your campaign has said that you would eventually release your tax records.


JACKSON: When it comes to transparency, but people are already voting now. Why Should Democratic voters have to wait?

BLOOMBERG: It just takes a long time. Unfortunately, or fortunately.

The former Mayor, one of the world’s richest men, depending on the chart, went on to explain that he makes money from his business “all around the world.”

As for his tax return disclosure, he said the number of pages would be in the thousands of pages.

“I can’t go to TurboTax,” Bloomberg said. “But I put out my tax return every year for 12 years in City Hall. We will put out this one. It tells everybody everything they need to know about every investment that I make and where the money goes.”

What followed next was not anyone of the candidates nor the NBC panel challenging Bloomberg about his bold face prevarication.

The one candidate who mustered the moment, following Bloomberg’s deceitful condescension, was Senator Amy Klobuchar, who rightly pointed out that every other person on the stage had disclosed their taxes.

“Mayor, I think—and it’s a major issue, because the president of the United States has been hiding behind his tax returns, even when courts order him to come forward with those returns,” she said.

She continued after the applause from the audience died down.

“And I think-I don’t care how much money anyone has. I think it’s great you’ve got a lot of money. But I think you’ve got to come forward with your tax returns.”

Bloomberg’s responded they would be out in a few weeks. “And that’s just as fast as I can do it,” he said. “Remember, I only entered into this race 10 weeks ago. All my associates here have been at this for a couple of years.”

That’s when I threw something at my TV because Mayor Mike was using his ‘got into this late’ pretense to once again tap dance past accountability, something that’s easier to do when so many people in the room are on your payroll.

He maybe rusty in the give and take of a live debate, but the Bloomberg machine has been well oiled for years. They have been Beta testing a presidential run since Donald Trump was just a reality TV star.

Part of my beat at WNYC was attending the annual financial fan dance that was conducted by Bloomberg’s press secretary Stu Loeser at Bloomberg’s accountants Geller & Co on Third Ave.

In point of fact, what we would get as reporters was a heavily redacted tax return where the dollar amounts where substituted with letters of the alphabet to reflect bands of value.

We could not make copies.

What we did get to take home to peruse at our leisure was his annual New York City Conflict of Interest Board disclosure which required he list the companies that he owned or had a beneficial interest in.

What I noticed was that over the arc of his tenure from 2002 through 2013 the number of companies listed went from 40 to over 80 and included entities domiciled in Bermuda, the Cayman Island and Delaware.

My awareness about the proliferation of the Bloomberg entities come just as the Occupy Wall Street movement was getting traction and starting to alter foot traffic in an around Zuccotti Park.

It also coincided with Bloomberg calling for a repeal of the Bush tax cuts and for raising taxes across the board as a way to deal with the rising wave of Federal government red ink.

So, as a beat reporter with regular access to New York City’s wealthiest global citizen I had to ask why he did not disclose what he paid.

It had been my hope to explore just how in the 21st century great global wealth was structured, and Bloomberg was a key case study with over 40 limited liability companies in Delaware and dozens of others in places like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.

I then put other major media companies through the same analysis and the structure was similar. It didn’t matter if it was Fox or the New York Times.

I took my Bloomberg research to Jeffrey Sachs, one of the world’s leading economists and author of The Price of Civilization. “

Sachs explained how great wealth and corporations had leveraged globalization in a way that put them beyond the reach of individual governments and that capital on the scale we were talking about actually could play governments off of each other. These fortunes had in essence subjugated the earth’s nations in a form of 21st century empire that would define all of our lives.

“We have ended up in a pretty rotten corrupted system and so the real space of our politics is extraordinarily limited, and the ultimate truth is the debt is rising, the interest payments are rising,” he said in 2012 in an interview in his Columbia University office. “That is squeezing out what we have to pay for education, on roads, for clean water. All of it is to protect the core of interests which drives our politics which is a few corporate sectors where the real money is.”

So, while human beings could get jailed or even killed for trying to cross a national boundary, big money never needed a passport to fly anywhere and governments were always happy when it landed locally.

I did get resistance on this story internally. WNYC’s general counsel was concerned that I was suggesting Bloomberg was doing something illegal. I was not. I was just trying to describe the contours of a global fortune in the age of surging homelessness and wealth inequality.

At the time, the Bloomberg rationale for not disclosing his taxes was that they amounted to a kind of proprietorial secret sauce that if revealed would put Bloomberg the businessman at a competitive disadvantage.

And nobody really pushed back.

Afterall, since the white man hustled Manhattan from the Native Americans this has always been a company town.

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  • JC Bond

    No one seemed to take notice of the REAL hypocrisy of the swipe Bloomberg made against Sanders last night, calling him “a millionaire socialist with three homes”. When Bernie shot back (after explaining he has a home in Washington (for work), a residence and a cottage) “well how many residences to you have?” Bloomberg replied: “One! — in NYC where I pay my taxes”
    — it would be surprising if a man of Sanders’ age and office would not have at least a million in net worth, as most middle-class home owning Americans of that age would. That’s a A FAR CRY from 60 BILLION — clearly many folks cannot conceive of the massive difference of scale in wealth between one million and one billion (let alone 60 Billion). Look into it.

    BTW no one, incl., bothered to confirm the validity of Bloomberg’s preposterous reply. A quick Google search turned this up: “Bloomberg owns at least six homes, with residences in London and Bermuda as well as in his home base, New York City.Nov 24, 2019 “

  • Jack Thompson

    Bull. Yes he did – you just didn’t like the way he did it. Now who’s the “liar”?

    • crc3

      Bull…no he didn’t!! HEAVILY REDACTED??? Sounds like he got help from Bill Barr to me…

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