Politicians are known for using various methods of outreach to attract new voters, but Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg might just have gone one step further. Just one day after the Iowa caucuses, his campaign announced that the former New York mayor was planning on paying popular Instagram celebrities for their endorsements, according to The Daily Beast.
Though the move may be unusual, it might also be necessary. Many politicos believe that Bloomberg currently trails in the second tier of Democratic presidential candidates — hovering around fourth and fifth place nationally — and needs a boost in popularity to remain viable in the upcoming primary season.
The specific program that Bloomberg’s team is using in this latest initiative is called Tribe, which markets itself as a middleman that connects brands to mid-level social media influencers who generally have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers on social media. Each influencer would receive around $150 for a post supporting Bloomberg.
“Show+Tell why Mike is the candidate who can change our country for the better, state why YOU think he’s a great candidate,” read the headline for the advertisement.
“Are you sick of the chaos & infighting overshadowing the issues that matter most to us? Please express your thoughts verbally or for still image posts please overlay text about why you support Mike,” it continued.
The listing, which touted Bloomberg as a “self-made businessman” and “proven supporter of progressive values,” also gave suggestions for what influencers could highlight in their sponsored content, including his record on gun violence, environmentally-friendly initiatives, and previous success in flipping House seats in 2018.
Though it is legal to pay for political endorsements — and legal not to disclose the fact that an endorsement was paid — it is likely that many voters would frown upon the practice.
In addition, not disclosing the fee might violate Instagram guidelines, which require influencers to tag business partners in their branded content with a “paid partnership with” line.
Social media influencers are not the only celebrities to take advantage of the potential revenue from giving endorsements. The Orange County Register disclosed that the website Cameo features celebrities and political figures willing to make public endorsements — for a price.
Larry Noble, a Washington D.C.-based attorney who’s served as general counsel of the Federal Election Commission, criticized the lack of laws surrounding the issue.
“It gets at the question of what the public has a right to know and how much candidates and platforms like Facebook are willing to deceive the public,” he said.
News that Bloomberg is paying for sponsored endorsements are not the only headlines that have surrounded the Democratic candidate this week.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the former Salomon Brothers executive has received heat after the Democratic National Committee changed its debate requirements so that Bloomberg could potentially participate. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called the changes an “outrage.”