Bloomberg announces release of accusers from contracts that silenced them

2020-02-23 15:08

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg said on Friday he was releasing three women from agreements that barred them from speaking about past harassment or discrimination suits filed against him.

The former New York mayor said on Twitter that his big media company had identified three non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) "signed over the past 30+ years with women to address complaints about comments they said I had made."

Any of them who wanted, he said, would "be given a release."

His move came just two days after the billionaire New Yorker, who joined the race for the Democratic nomination belatedly but has vastly outspent his rivals, was sharply challenged by one of those rivals, Senator Elizabeth Warren, to release the women from their NDAs.

Warren was unsparing in her remarks about Bloomberg in a Democratic debate Wednesday in Las Vegas, saying he had described women as "fat broads" and "horse-faced lesbians."

She pressed him further on Thursday, telling a CNN town hall audience that as a former law professor she had drawn up a release form the former mayor could download and use.

A lot of reflecting

Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of media company Bloomberg LP, which employed the three women as part of a work force of some 20 000.

He said in his statement that "I've done a lot of reflecting on this issue over the past few days and I've decided that for as long as I'm running the company, we won't offer confidentiality agreements to resolve claims of sexual harassment or misconduct going forward."

Such agreements, he said, could be used to "promote a culture of silence in the workplace and contribute to a culture of women not feeling safe or supported."

WATCH | Billionaire Bloomberg says he'll sell if he wins election

He said he had ordered a full review of company policies on equal pay and promotion, sexual harassment and discrimination, adding, "I want my company to be a model for women seeking opportunity and support in their careers."

He said that unlike President Donald Trump - who has denied accusations of sexual misconduct by dozens of women -"I will be a leader whom women can trust."

Bloomberg has sought to contrast himself to Trump in other ways, vowing to release his tax returns and to sell his media company if elected.


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