You might be a bit more surprised to hear that the really, really rich guy in question is New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who announced yesterday that he is backing Brown. Bloomberg, a billionaire and no. 12 on Forbes’ “Richest People in America” list, has a long history as a political maverick, having belonged at one time or another to both major political parties and now self-styled as an independent. His endorsements over the years have been weirdly eclectic, ranging from Alan Khazei in 2009 to Meg Whitman (the eBay millionaire who ran for CA-Gov) in 2010.
His explanation for endorsing Brown, however, rings hollow. According to Bloomberg’s spokesperson,
The “biggest reason” the mayor decided to support Brown was the senator’s opposition to the National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act, which would allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines.
I mean, that’s fine – the “Reciprocity Act” is horrendous legislation, and good for Brown for opposing it. But just a few days ago Brown spoke out against reviving the federal assault weapons ban, a position that frankly makes no sense for someone who supported a similar ban at the state level. Bloomberg favors a federal assault weapons ban, and in the wake of the Aurora shooting insisted that the presidential candidates “stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it … because this is obviously a problem across the country.” He also published an op-ed proposing a strategy for moving stricter gun control measures through Congress.
And yet he’s backing Brown, who opposes pretty much any additional congressional action on guns (recall that after Congresswoman Giffords was shot, Brown said he was “not in favor of doing any additional federal regulations with regard to any type of weapons or federal gun changes”), simply because Brown is against a truly extreme, profoundly anti-states’-rights measure that obviously Elizabeth Warren would also oppose?
I don’t buy it. I think it’s pretty clear what’s going on here: IMHO, Bloomberg cares even more about Wall Street than he does about guns, and right now Wall Street hates and fears nobody more than they hate and fear Elizabeth Warren. Bloomberg may have left his day-to-day work in the financial sector for City Hall, but he hasn’t forgotten who made him the 12th-richest person in the country.
To paraphrase, you can take the banker out of Wall Street, but apparently you can’t take Wall Street out of the banker.
UPDATE: Mayor Bloomberg has explained that he is backing Brown even though Brown is “not good on guns generally.” So that would seem to remove pretty much any doubt about what’s really going on, though of course Bloomberg won’t admit it publicly.