During Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential primary debate, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg became visibly flustered as he attempted to answer a question about sexual harassment allegations against him.
It was the billionaire’s first time on the debate stage since announcing his campaign for president in November.
NBC News’ Hallie Jackson asked the candidate a pointed question about his history as the CEO of Bloomberg L.P., the media company he co-founded.
And Bloomberg’s response wasn’t pretty.
“Several former employees have claimed that your company was a hostile workplace for women,” Jackson said. “When you were confronted about it, you admitted making sexually suggestive remarks, saying ‘That’s the way I grew up.'”
The news anchor went on to cite a specific example of one of Bloomberg’s vulgar remarks to a female employee.
“Should Democrats expect better from their nominee?” Jackson asked.
“Anybody that does anything wrong in our company, we investigate it, and if it’s appropriate, they’re gone that day.”
That answer raises a question: What is Bloomberg’s definition of “appropriate”?
According to one sexual harassment suit against the billionaire filed in 1997, a female employee named Sekiko Sekai Garrison alleged that Bloomberg and other executives at the company had harassed female employees with a series of insensitive and objectionable comments.
Among the most repulsive of those alleged remarks was a comment that Garrison said Bloomberg made to her at the company’s “snack area” in 1995.
When Garrison revealed that she was pregnant, Bloomberg allegedly responded, “Kill it!”
Garrison also alleged that Bloomberg made “repeated and unwelcome” sexual comments to her and other female employees.
The case was settled in 2000, with Bloomberg paying out an undisclosed sum of money.
Do those comments fall under the category of “anything wrong”? Should Bloomberg have been “gone that day” for making them?
Maybe Bloomberg should have thought a little longer before speaking.
After the billionaire answered Jackson’s question during the debate, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren pressed the former mayor on a series of non-disclosure agreements that several women signed as part the suit settlements.
His response only helped to dig him into a deeper hole.
“We have a very few non-disclosure agreements. None of them accuse me of anything other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told,” he said.
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