Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, fresh off having spent more than $500 million on his failed presidential bid, gave $500,000 to a group registering young Latinos to vote.
Bloomberg made the donation to Voto Latino, a group founded by the actress Rosario Dawson and María Teresa Kumar, the group’s president.
“President Trump has spent four years attacking and slandering Latino communities, but in November, Latinos will have a chance to make their voices heard,” Bloomberg said in a statement first provided to NBC News.
“We need to make sure that Latinos who are eligible to vote are registered and we get them to the polls — and I’m supporting Voto Latino to achieve both goals,” Bloomberg said.
The total amounts to a quarter of the $2 million Bloomberg recently gave to Collective Future, a nonprofit that registers black voters.
A spokeswoman for Bloomberg referred questions about the disparity in contributions to Kumar, who said the donation is the “beginning of a partnership.”
Voto Latino started in 2004 as the earliest wave of young Latino citizens was joining the voting-age population. The number of Latinos turning 18 each year had increased to about 1 million, most of them U.S. citizens.
“There are 15 million unregistered Latino voters in the country, 4 million that have come of age since the last election,” Kumar told NBC News. Kumar also is a contributor to MSNBC.
Those young Latinos who have come of age since the 2016 election “heard the president call their loved ones criminals and rapists,” Kumar said. “This election will be a referendum on the politics of hate and divisiveness.”
Kumar said Bloomberg’s donation will help pay the costs of registering 500,000 new voters this election cycle. That’s part of a larger effort to register and get to the polls 1 million Latino voters in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin and other key states ahead of November.
In addition to registering Latinos to vote, Voto Latino runs get-out-the-vote operations that include paying for rides for voters on Election Day and leadership summits for young Latinos.
Voto Latino started the year with $3.5 million cash on hand and has raised $11 million to register Latino voters, Kumar said.
That includes a $1 million contribution in October from the designer and retailer Steve Madden and $1 million from an anonymous donor. Kumar said she’s seeking $4 million more.
An estimated 32 million Latinos are eligible to vote in 2020. This will be the first year Hispanics make up the largest non-white population of eligible voters. But Latinos have lower turnout rates than black and white voters.
Large shares of new and young Latino voters have supported Bernie Sanders in early states in the Democratic presidential contests and even in Texas, as his campaign has invested in turning out Latinos. Bloomberg also spent heavily trying to woo Latinos in Super Tuesday states before he exited the campaign.
Clarissa Martinez de Castro, a deputy vice president of UnidosUS, which works on registering Latinos to vote, called the donation welcome news and hoped there would be more “installments” with other groups trying to register Latinos. Many Latino groups have struggled drawing investments to register Latinos in part because of the low Latino turnout.
“Enhorabuena (congratulations) to Voto Latino,” Martinez de Castro said. “I hope this investment would become broader and deeper so we can meaningfully close that registration gap; there’s many groups across the country that would be sound investments to do that with.”