On the eve of the Nevada caucus all roads lead back to Bloomberg.
For the first time, the billionnaire businessman turned author turned mayor of New York turned Democratic presidential candidate and meme disaster Michael Bloomberg is actually getting in the race, putting an absurd amount of money behind a presidential campaign which has largely been considered to have little substance.
However after announcing he would not contest Iowa or New Hampshire, which have seen Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg take the lead, it's now looking like Bloomberg's campaign is gaining momentum, especially after his first appearance on the debate stage earlier this week, in what became the most-watched Democratic debate in history.
But instead of giving Bloomberg an opportunity to showcase his policies, he actually spent most of his time fielding attacks from the other candidates, who wanted us all to know what he really stands for.
We looked into some of the allegations against him and what we found was not good. Here are some of the most awful things Bloomberg has said and done to women, people of colour and LGBTQ+ people over the years.
1. Sexually objectifying his female employees
In a biography of Bloomberg, author Joyce Purnick writes that Sekiko Sakai Garrison, a salesperson who worked with him and filed a sexual harassment suit against his company in 1996, alleged that:
Bloomberg and other executives subjected women to 'repeated and unwelcome sexual' comments and overtures, that Bloomberg regularly made offensive comments about women employees such as 'I'd fuck that in a second' 'I'd like to do that' and 'that's a great piece of ass'.
While he conceded to having said "I'd do her" in relation to Garrison, he claimed he didn't know what "do" meant. (Apparently he thought it meant "to have a personal relationship".)
He also allegedly told a group of workers at a sales conference that:
I'd like nothing more in life than to have Sharon Stone sit on my face.
2. Dismissing a female judge
When he was mayor of New York, he made stop-and-frisk a key part of his strategy to fight crime, despite huge opposition. Eventually, a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional, and his response was:
Your safety and the safety of your kids is now in the hands of some woman who does not have the expertise to do it.
Unclear on what basis he decided the female judge was inexperienced...
3. Suggesting women want to be wolf-whistled at
In 1990, Bloomberg employees created a book filled with their boss's most famous quotes, entitled The Portable Bloomberg: The Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg. In 2001, New York magazine columnist Michael Wolff (now of Fire and Fury fame), said the book: "Represents, I think, an institutional acceptance of the arrogance, cruelty, carelessness, and rulelessness of the CEO."
Many of the quotes are wildly offensive, including homophobia, antisemitism and various shades of sexism. Here's a right corker:
I know for a fact that any self-respecting woman who walks past a construction site and doesn't get a whistle will turn around and walk past again and again until she does get one.
For a fact. OK.
According to Gawker(RIP), the quote – along with many others – was corroborated by Elisabeth DeMarse, who worked with him at the time and said he was "touched" by the book: "He loves things about himself."
4. Demanding a female politician wear heels
In 2013 aNew York magazine cover story was a profile of Christine Quinn, who was running to succeed Bloomberg as mayor. She went on to lose the Democratic primary to Bill de Blasio, who is serving his second term as mayor today. However, at the time, she was speaker of the New York City Council. In her capacity as such, she had plenty of opportunities to interact with Bloomberg. Journalist Jonathan van Meter, who interviewed her wrote:
[Quinn] said, “The mayor is going to yell at me when I get out of the car because I have flat boots on. The mayor has no use for flat shoes.” Really, I said. Why would he care? “I was at a parade with him once and he said, ‘What are those?’ and I said, ‘They’re comfortable,’ and he said, ‘I never want to hear those words out of your mouth again.’ ” Everyone in the vehicle, including the security detail in the front seat, cracked up. “He likes me in high heels. Let’s see how long it takes before he notices."
5. Refusing to believe rape victims
In 1998, Bloomberg's company was being sued for sexual harassment by a woman named Mary Ann Olszewski, who alleged that male employees routinely demeaned women, and as a result of a culture of sexual objectification she was raped by her boss, a top Bloomberg executive.
During a deposition relating to the case, Bloomberg testified that he wouldn't assume a rape allegation was genuine unless there was "an unimpeachable third-party witness". When asked how this could possibly come about, he replied:
There are times when three people are together.
Yes and there are times when two people are alone together and one person sexually assaults another.
6. Calling trans women “it”
This only happened last year, which is great. While speaking at the Bermuda Business Development agency forum in March 2019, Bloomberg touched on the conversation surrounding trans rights, offering up this blinkered little tit bit:
If your conversation during a presidential election is about some guy wearing a dress and whether he, she, or it can go to the locker room with their daughter, that's not a winning formula for most people.
Basically: don’t talk about trans rights and don’t recognise trans people as human! Cool!
7. Using homophobic slurs
Another gem from The Portable Bloomberg, which could single handedly undo all the good PR Bloomberg’s been paying famous Instagram meme accounts to provide. The businessman reportedly referred to a professional rival as a "f*g", which has historically been used a pejorative against gay men. This is despite Bloomberg setting himself up as a bastion of LGBTQ+ rights, after presiding over the legalisation of gay marriage in New York in 2011.
8. Implying being gay was to be a “misfit”
Bloomberg’s apparently no fan of the UK’s royal family, also being quoted in The Portable Bloombergas saying:
The Royal Family – what a bunch of misfits – a gay, an architect, that horsey-faced lesbian, and a kid who gave up Koo Stark for some fat broad.
Impressively, he managed to cram two doses of homophobia, some fatphobia and a dollop of sexism into one sentence. Efficient.
9. Saying police need to harass minorities more
While mayor of New York city, Bloomberg implemented the controversial stop-and-frisk policy which disproportionately targeted ethnic minorities (with 90 per cent of those stopped being completely innocent).
In fact, it was so racist that Bloomberg has since publicly tried to distance himself from it. But resurfaced video from 2013 shows Bloomberg not only defending the policy but also saying that, in his opinion, it should target minorities even more:
I think we disproportionately search whites too much and minorities too little.
Apparently he thought this made perfect sense.
9. Saying all murderers are from ethnic minorities
The man just can’t help himself.
In 2015 Bloomberg also decided to hold forth on racial profiling, in a speech at the Aspen Institute.
Ninety-five percent of your murders — murderers and murder victims — fit one M.O.
You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York. That’s true in virtually every city.
It isn’t actually true, as this data shows. But Bloomberg thought it was. And he was Mayor of one of the most diverse cities in the Western world.
10. Suggesting the recession wouldn’t have happened if banks had been more racist
In 2008, as a global recession gripped the world, triggered by US banks who gave out high-risk sub-prime loans, Bloomberg offered his view: it could have all been avoided if those institutions had been just a little more racist.
In comments made at Georgetown University, Bloomberg said that the issues that led to the recession happened when Congress put a stop to “redlining” – the practice of refusing to give loans to poorer neighbourhoods:
It all started back when there was a lot of pressure on banks to make loans to everyone. Redlining, if you remember, was the term where banks took whole neighborhoods and said, 'People in these neighborhoods are poor, they're not going to be able to pay off their mortgages, tell your salesmen don't go into those areas.
Except the way “redlining” manifested was that areas predominantly made up of low-income, ethnic minority communities were denied access to banking support or extra capital.
Elizabeth Warren, who was heavily involved in post-crash banking regulation, has already attacked him over the comments, saying: “Let’s be clear, that would not have averted the crisis and anybody who thinks that the banks should have been allowed to be more racist should not be the leader of our party."