Michael Bloomberg Under Fire for Sexist Quotations: ‘If Women Wanted to Be Appreciated for Their Brains…’

Former New York Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks about his plan for clean energy during a campaign event at the Blackwall Hitch restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia on December 13, 2019. (Photo by Olivier Douliery / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

A booklet of alleged quotations associated with former New York mayor and now Democrat presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has resurfaced and could haunt him as the derogatory quotes about women attributed to him and past allegations and even lawsuits about  mistreatment of female staffers are again in the spotlight.

The booklet, featuring quotes to showcase the “wit and wisdom” of Bloomberg, was put together by colleagues some 30 years ago and began with the one-liner: “Make the customer think he’s getting laid when he’s getting [expletive].”

“What do I want?” The booklet said on page six. “I want an exclusive, 10-year contract, an automatic extension, and I want you to pay me. And I want [oral sex] from Jane Fonda. Have you seen Jane Fonda? Not bad for fifty.”

ABC reported on other quotes in the book:

And sexist: “If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdales.” And, “I know for a fact that any self-respecting woman who walks past a construction site doesn’t get a whistle will turn around and walk past again and again until she does get one.”

In 1990, the 32-page book of quotes was intended to be a light-hearted gift to celebrate the 48th birthday of the thriving company’s up-and-coming boss. But as the former New York City mayor begins his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, this thin book is reemerging as evidence of an inconvenient chapter in his career.

Bloomberg has said in the past that he did not recall making the comments described in the booklet. Language that might have flowed during the machismo-fueled 1990’s on Wall Street, strikes a different chord during a nationwide political bid in the era of #MeToo.

“There’s really little tolerance for a candidate who has problems with women,” Michele Swers, a professor of American government at Georgetown University, said in the ABC report.

“Things that used to not be talked about are now being talked about publicly,” Swers said. “There’s more attention on those kinds of issues, and so politicians are asked to address it.”

“Bloomberg has already started fielding questions about his own record with women,” ABC reported. “On Sunday, at a campaign event in North Carolina, Bloomberg told ABC News his company has an ‘enviable record’ of gender equality.”

“There will always be somebody that’s not happy, but we are — we do very well in terms of attracting men and women to come to work in the company, and the retention rate with both of them is good as I think any real company,” Bloomberg said. “So, I’m very proud of what we do.”

Julie Wood, a spokeswoman for Bloomberg’s campaign told ABC News that Bloomberg “believes his words have not always aligned with his values and the way he has led his life.”

ABC News obtained one of the remaining original booklets, titled “The Portable Bloomberg: The Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg,” which was compiled by a woman.

Elisabeth DeMarse was Bloomberg’s head of marketing in the 1990s and confirmed her role when the booklet surfaced publicly in 2001 when Bloomberg was running for mayor.

“He says this stuff to customers and new hires and anyone who comes into the office,” DeMarse said at the time but refused to say more because of a confidentiality agreement.

“Yes, these are all actual quotes. No, nothing has been embellished or exaggerated. And yes, some things were too outrageous to include,” DeMarse wrote in the booklet’s forward.

“To Donna Clancy, an attorney handling three pending discrimination cases against Bloomberg’s company, [Bloomberg LP] the contents are evidence of a glaring character flaw – one being exposed at a time when there is no latitude for demeaning comments about women in the office,” ABC reported. “Clancy said she found it stunning that these could be ‘things he would typically say in the workplace.’”

One of the most controversial lawsuits involved a claim in the 1990s when a woman in his office announced her pregnancy and Bloomberg told her to “kill it.”

“[Sekiko Sakai] thought [Bloomberg] would be pleased that she was pregnant,” Bonnie Josephs, the lawyer who first represented Sakai in the case told ABC News, adding that Sakai was “very distressed” by the remark.

Bloomberg LP settled Sakai’s case with undisclosed terms, and a confidentiality agreement is part of the agreement.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.