Michael Bloomberg's past comments about women and rape will likely haunt him on the 2020 campaign trail

Evan Agostini/AP ImagesActress Eva Longoria, left, CEO and owner of Bloomberg L.P., Michael Bloomberg and model Karlie Kloss attend the tenth annual L’Oreal Paris ‘Women of Worth’ awards gala at The Pierre Hotel on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in New York.
  • Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York Mayor who is poised to enter the presidential race, has made offensive comments about women in the past.
  • Bloomberg has long been accused of making offensive and belittling remarks about women’s appearances and sexuality.
  • He has in past years batted away numerous allegations of a toxic misogynist culture at his company and sexual assault allegations made against a top executive.
  • In the late 1990s, Bloomberg said he wouldn’t believe a woman’s rape claims unless “an unimpeachable third-party witness” could back them up.
  • Bloomberg’s team told The New York Times in a statement this week that the former three-term mayor regrets some of the “disrespectful” comments he’s made in the past.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor who is poised to enter the presidential race, will likely be haunted by offensive comments he’s made in the past about women and the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct.

Bloomberg has long been accused of making offensive and belittling remarks about women’s appearances and sexuality. At a Christmas party in 2012, he pointed to a woman wearing a tight dress and said, “look at the arse on her.”

If he moves forward with a presidential bid, Bloomberg’s history of womanizing could invite unflattering comparisons to President Donald Trump.

His team told The New York Times in a statement this week that the former three-term mayor regrets some of the “disrespectful” comments he’s made in the past.

“Mike has come to see that some of what he has said is disrespectful and wrong,” said Stu Loeser, an adviser to Bloomberg’s potential presidential bid. “He believes his words have not always aligned with his values and the way he has led his life.”

Last year, Bloomberg appeared to question the #MeToo movement, telling The Times that the battle against sexual harassment and assault may have gone too far in certain cases. He defended former TV news anchor Charlie Rose shortly after he was fired from PBS News and CBS News following harassment allegations.

“The stuff I read about is disgraceful – I don’t know how true all of it is,” Bloomberg said of the allegations against Rose. “We have a system where you have – presumption of innocence is the basis of it,” he said.

In his 1997 autobiography, Bloomberg wrote that he kept “a girlfriend in every city” during his years on Wall Street in the 1960s and 70s. And he once told a reporter, “I like theatre, dining, and chasing women … Let me put it this way: I am a single, straight billionaire in Manhattan. What do you think? It’s a wet dream.”

He’s also faced scrutiny over remarks attributed to him in a 32-page booklet gifted to him in jest by colleagues in 1990. The booklet, titled ”Portable Bloomberg: The Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg,” featured a host of misogynistic, racist, and homophobic jokes. One quote attributed to Bloomberg read, “If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale’s.”

Bloomberg berated reporters for asking him about the booklet during his 2001 campaign for mayor.

”That you are focusing on it is just so ridiculous,” Bloomberg said at the time. ”Let’s get back to talking about what this city cares about.”

FILE PHOTO: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg approaches the microphones to speak to reporters after his meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington February 27, 2013.   REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File PhotoReutersNew York Mayor Bloomberg prepares to speak to reporters after his meeting with U.S. Vice President Biden, at the White House in Washington

Discrimination and assault at Bloomberg LP

Bloomberg has in past years batted away numerous allegations of a toxic misogynist culture at his company and sexual assault allegations made against a top executive.

In 2008, at least 58 women filed a class-action lawsuit against Bloomberg LP alleging pregnancy discrimination. The women alleged they were demoted, had their salaries cut, or were otherwise mistreated after they returned from maternity leave.

One of the women’s complaints alleged that an executive at the company said, “I’m not having any pregnant bitches working for me.”

This came after several female employees sued Bloomberg LP alleging discrimination or sexual harassment in the 1990s.

One former Bloomberg employee, Mary Ann Olszewski, sued the company in 1998 alleging that she was raped by a company executive.

At the time, Bloomberg said he wouldn’t believe Olszewski’s rape claims unless “an unimpeachable third-party witness” could back them up.

Loeser told The Times this week that Bloomberg made that comment about rape in the heat of a deposition and that it doesn’t reflect his current views.

“That’s not what he believes,” Loeser said.

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