Sen. Elizabeth Warren attacked Michael Bloomberg Tuesday night against over his use of non-disclosure agreements in settlements with former female employees who brought sexual harassment lawsuits against his company.
Warren called for Bloomberg to release the women from their NDAs and urged the audience to reflect on his defense in the face of those accusations, saying, “I hope you heard his defense. I’ve been nice to some women … That just doesn’t cut it.”
She continued, “He has gotten some number of women — dozens, who knows? — to sign non-disclosure 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 non-disclosure agreements so we can hear their side of the story?”
Warren’s question was met with rowdy cheers from the in-house audience at the Paris Las Vegas Theater. Once the crowd died down, Bloomberg was able to respond, “None of them accuse me of doing anything other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told.”
Bloomberg’s answer was met with gasps and groans from the audience.
After Warren pressed Bloomberg again to release the women from their nondisclosure, Bloomberg gave an answer that indicated he has no plans to do so, saying, “They decided when they made an agreement that they wanted to keep it quiet for everybody’s interest. They signed the agreements and that’s what we’re going to live with.”
The heated exchange came after a fast and furious start to the debate, in which all of the candidates seemed to take turns piling on Bloomberg, who was making his debate debut.
Bernie Sanders began by criticizing Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policy during his tenure as New York City’s mayor, which he noted “went after African American and Latino people in an outrageous way. That is not a way you’re going to grow voter turnout. What our movement is about is bringing working-class people together. Black and white and Latino, Native American, Asian American, around an agenda that works for all of us and not just the billionaire class.” Sanders also pitched universal health care, a minimum wage increase, and fighting climate change as reasons.
Warren was blunt with her criticism of Bloomberg, calling attention to his history of numerous, and well-documented accusations of sexist and profane comments made by Bloomberg in front of his employees. “I’d like to talk about who we’re running against. A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians. And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”