Mike Bloomberg cleared the way Friday for three women believed to have accused the former New York City mayor of sexist or misogynistic comments to be released from nondisclosure agreements (NDAs).
In a statement, Bloomberg said that his company, Bloomberg LP, had identified three nondisclosure agreements it had entered into with women who are thought to have accused the billionaire businessman of making inappropriate and offensive comments.
“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,” Bloomberg said.
He added that he had reflected on his company’s use of nondisclosure agreements, acknowledging that such contracts “promote a culture of silence in the workplace and contribute to a culture of women not feeling safe or supported.”
“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,” he said.
The decision from Bloomberg comes as he faces biting criticism from his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination over his use of NDAs over decades to conceal allegations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior.
Bloomberg struggled to confront that criticism on Wednesday after several of his opponents, most notably Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.), raised the issue during a Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas. At one point, Warren pressed him to release his accusers from their nondisclosure agreements while he was still on the debate stage.
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Warren urged him once again to release the women from the NDAs during a CNN town hall event on Thursday night, offering up a contract that she wrote herself that would allow Bloomberg’s accusers to speak openly about their allegations.
“I used to teach contract law,” Warren, a former Harvard professor, said. “And I thought I would make this easy. I wrote up a release and covenant not to sue, and all that Mayor Bloomberg has to do is download it — I’ll text it — sign it, and then the women, or men, will be free to speak and tell their own stories.”
Bloomberg had previously resisted the notion of releasing the women from the nondisclosure agreements, dismissing his alleged comments as “a joke.”
In an interview on ABC’s “The View” last month, the former New York City mayor insisted that the contracts were simply “legal agreements” and that “both sides wanted to keep certain things from coming out.”
“Did I ever tell a bawdy joke? Yeah, sure I did,” he said. “And do I regret it? Yes, it’s embarrassing.”
Still, the nondisclosure agreements and other issues have proved to be politically damaging for Bloomberg, who only announced his candidacy in November but has worked his way near the top of national polls through a free-spending campaign fueled by his personal fortune.
A Morning Consult poll conducted entirely after Wednesday’s presidential debate showed the former mayor’s national support stalling and his favorability ratings diminishing, particularly among the moderate voters he is counting on to boost his presidential bid.
In his statement addressing the NDAs on Thursday, Bloomberg said that he has asked the human resources team at his company to “review and reform our policies where necessary with regard to equal pay and promotion, sexual harassment and discrimination, and other legal tools that prevent culture change.”
He also said that, if elected president, he would advocate for the passage of the Be Heard Act, which includes provisions aimed at preventing workplace harassment and discrimination, as well as legislation that would promote women’s equality in the workplace and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Bloomberg said that he has also directed his campaign to review and amend its current policies to be consistent with those principles.
“There is more we can do when we work together. When we share a respect for each other and treat all of our colleagues as we ourselves would wish to be treated, we all do our best work,” he said. “This is something Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE does not understand — not when he ran his business, and not now when he is recklessly running our country. I will be a leader whom women can trust.”
Still, Bloomberg’s decision regarding the NDAs addresses only one aspect of the criticism that has been aimed at him in recent weeks.
He has also faced questions about the use of a stop-and-frisk policing policy during his tenure as New York City mayor, as well as about past comments he has made tying the end of the discriminatory housing policy known as “redlining” to the 2008 financial crisis.