The Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Friday, Jan. 31, announced changes to its debate-qualification thresholds for candidates to qualify for the Feb. 19 presidential nomination debate in Nevada, opening the doors for former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to participate in the showdown.

The new criteria no longer requires candidates to reach the individual-donor threshold, which was used for the first eight debates, including next week’s debate in New Hampshire. 

The DNC’s action appears to benefit Bloomberg since the multibillionaire business and media mogul is funding his campaign entirely on his own and has not participated in any of the debates.

The move came two months after Bloomberg donated more than $300,000 to the DNC itself and another $800,000 to the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee for the DNC and state Democratic parties. The donations were made just five days before he declared his candidacy for president, according to the Federal Election Commission records.

A number of Bloomberg’s rivals have quickly criticized the DNC’s change of the debate criteria.

“To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong,” Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to senior Bernie Sanders(I-Vt.), told Politico, adding that the rules change was evidence of “a rigged system where the rich can buy their way in.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also joined Sander to blast the move.

“The DNC didn’t change the rules to ensure good, diverse candidates could remain on the debate stage. They shouldn’t change the rules to let a billionaire on. Billionaires shouldn’t be allowed to play by different rules—on the debate stage, in our democracy, or in our government,” she tweeted.

“Billionaire Bloomberg just bought the @DNC,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) slammed the DNC’s decision. 

A DNC spokeswoman defended the move and said the donor threshold is no longer useful as it was in the opening stages of the race.

Bloomberg’s campaign manager, Kevin Skeekey told Politico that he is “thrilled” that Bloomberg will likely appear in Las Vegas following the rules change.

“We are thrilled that voters could soon have the chance to see Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage, hear his vision for the country, and see why he is the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump and bring our country together,” he said.

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