Bloomberg Lied About His Nondisclosure Agreements, Will the Democrats Let Him Get Away With It?

 Mike Bloomberg speaks to the media, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019 in Phoenix. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, a late entrant in the already crowded race for the Democratic presidential nomination, was set Tuesday to file to run in Arizona's presidential primary. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Bloomberg (AP)

 Mike Bloomberg speaks to the media, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019 in Phoenix. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, a late entrant in the already crowded race for the Democratic presidential nomination, was set Tuesday to file to run in Arizona’s presidential primary. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)


During Wednesday night’s Democrat debate in Las Vegas, one of the many troubling elements of Michael Bloomberg’s privileged and out-of-touch life that came under attack was his propensity to make employees alleging any wrongdoing on the part of Bloomberg or his company sign nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) concurrent with the settlement.

These two clips give you a flavor of the exchange, but this is the transcript of the entire discussion on Bloomberg’s history of legally silencing potential critics.

JACKSON: Let me ask you about something else. Several former employees have claimed that your company was a hostile workplace for women. When you were confronted about it, you admitted making sexually suggestive remarks, saying, quote, “That’s the way I grew up.” In a lawsuit in the 1990s, according to the Washington Post, one former female employee alleged that you said, quote, “I would do you in a second.” Should Democrats expect better from their nominee?

BLOOMBERG: Let me say a couple of things, if I could have my full minute and a quarter, thank you. I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior that the “Me, Too” movement has exposed. And anybody that does anything wrong in our company, we investigate it, and if it’s appropriate, they’re gone that day.

But let me tell you what I do at my company and my foundation and in city government when I was there. In my foundation, the person that runs it’s a woman, 70 percent of the people there are women. In my company, lots and lots of women have big responsibilities. They get paid exactly the same as men. And in my — in City Hall, the person, the top person, my deputy mayor was a woman, and 40 percent of our commissioners were women.

I am very proud of the fact that about two weeks ago we were awarded, we were voted the most — the best place to work, second best place in America. If that doesn’t say something about our employees and how happy they are, I don’t know what does.

JACKSON: Senator Warren, you’ve been critical of Mayor Bloomberg on this issue.

WARREN: Yes, I have. And I hope you heard what his defense was. “I’ve been nice to some women.” That just doesn’t cut it.

The mayor has to stand on his record. And what we need to know is exactly what’s lurking out there. He has gotten some number of women, dozens, who knows, to sign nondisclosure agreements both for sexual harassment and for gender discrimination in the workplace.

So, Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those nondisclosure agreements, so we can hear their side of the story?

(APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: We have a very few nondisclosure agreements.

WARREN: How many is that?

BLOOMBERG: Let me finish.

WARREN: How many is that?

BLOOMBERG: None of them accuse me of doing anything, other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told. And let me just — and let me — there’s agreements between two parties that wanted to keep it quiet and that’s up to them. They signed those agreements, and we’ll live with it.

BIDEN: Come on.

WARREN: So, wait, when you say it is up to — I just want to be clear. Some is how many? And — and when you — and when you say they signed them and they wanted them, if they wish now to speak out and tell their side of the story about what it is they allege, that’s now OK with you? You’re releasing them on television tonight? Is that right?

(APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: Senator…

WARREN: Is that right, tonight?

BLOOMBERG: Senator, the company and somebody else, in this case — a man or a woman or it could be more than that, they decided when they made an agreement they wanted to keep it quiet for everybody’s interests.

BIDEN: Come on.

BLOOMBERG: They signed the agreements and that’s what we’re going to live with.

(CROSSTALK)

BUTTIGIEG: You could release them now.

WARREN: I’m sorry. No, the question is…

BLOOMBERG: I heard your question.

WARREN: … are the women bound by being muzzled by you and you could release them from that immediately? Because, understand, this is not just a question of the mayor’s character. This is also a question about electability.

We are not going to beat Donald Trump with a man who has who knows how many nondisclosure agreements and the drip, drip, drip of stories of women saying they have been harassed and discriminated against.

(APPLAUSE)

That’s not what we do as Democrats.

JACKSON: Mr. Vice President?

BIDEN: Look, let’s get something straight here. It’s easy. All the mayor has to do is say, “You are released from the nondisclosure agreement,” period.

(APPLAUSE)

We talk about transparency here. This guy got himself in trouble saying that there was a non — that he couldn’t disclose what he did. He went to his company…

BUTTIGIEG: Just to be super-clear, that was about the list of clients, so nobody gets the wrong idea.

BIDEN: No, no, no. Yeah, I’m sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

BUTTIGIEG: I know what you mean. No, you’re right.

BIDEN: But he said — he went to the company and said I want to be released, I want to be able to do it. Look, this is about transparency from the very beginning, whether it’s your health record, whether it’s your taxes, whether it’s whether you have cases against you, whether or not people have signed nondisclosure agreements.

You think the women, in fact, were ready to say I don’t want anybody to know about what you did to me? That’s not how it works. The way it works is they say, look, this is what you did to me and the mayor comes along and his attorneys said, I will give you this amount of money if you promise you will never say anything. That’s how it works.

(APPLAUSE)

JACKSON: Mayor Bloomberg, final word to you?

BLOOMBERG: I’ve said we’re not going to get — to end these agreements because they were made consensually and they have every right to expect that they will stay private.

I don’t have a problem with NDAs, as a rule. But when you get a modestly paid employee who is wronged sufficiently that they file a lawsuit, when you are dealing with Michael Bloomberg, your options are to be bled white via lawfare and getting absolutely nothing or to take a pittance of a settlement and sign an NDA that keeps the complainant from evening sniveling about being screwed over.

It didn’t take a genius to know that telling the entire #MeToo movement to FOAD, if you are a Democrat, is dumb. It also says a lot for Bloomberg’s experiential blindspot, not uncommon for a guy who has never been challenged by anyone he can neither fire or have arrested, because it didn’t take even a bright person to figure out that his company’s record on equal pay, diversity, and sexual harassment were going to be under a microscope. In fact, he’d been grilled on that very subject not long after entering the race:

Obviously, someone inside the campaign, I’m guessing it was the guy who came up with the billboards because it shows the same pattern stupidity being sold by glibness, decided that Bloomberg was getting his butt kicked by that answer and it had to change.

Democratic presidential contender Mike Bloomberg announced Friday that he will allow three female former employees of his media company to be released their non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that were signed “to address complaints about comments they said I had made.”

In a statement released Friday, the former New York City mayor said the agreements had been signed “over the past 30-plus years,” but did not provide a specific timeframe.

“If any of them want to be released from their NDA so that they can talk about those allegations, they should contact the company and they’ll be given a release,” he said.

This is a sure fire competitor in the Epic Class of the Too Little Too Late Awards.

Bloomberg took a hard position in the debates and he should have had the…I would say cojones but we are all pretty sure that short billionaires don’t have those…intestinal fortitude to standfast. Sure some people would have not liked it but it is very difficult for your opponents to argue when you refuse to respond. If Bloomberg gets the nomination, no one will not vote for him because of this and it is unlikely Trump would want this as a campaign issue.

This walk back by Bloomberg does several things. First, is shows he can be rolled. You can bet that was noticed by everyone. Second, he got caught in a lie. If you look at the debate transcript he clearly says that none of the NDAs involved him personally beyond a joke he told. We know that one of the women released from her NDA is Seikko Garrison. And we know that her complaints, already revealed in the Washington Post, were more than jokes. On Friday, he admits at least three of them do involve him. The obvious questions are a) how can we trust you, b) releasing an employee from an NDA when that complaint is already in the public domain is not very transparent, and c) when can we see the rest of them so we can be sure you’re not lying?

The NDA issue is not going away any time soon. It’s only going to get a hiatus as the field winnows. When he and Sanders get down to hand-to-gland combat, you can bet that Sanders and Super PACs will be going after Bloomberg on this and probably tying him to Harvy Weinstein who also used NDAs to cover his avocation.