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Bloomberg's partner on his past controversial comments: "It was a bro culture" but "that's not who he is"

Sanders defends Castro praise before debate

Diana Taylor, the longtime partner of Mike Bloomberg is weighing in on nondisclosure agreements that his opponents have seized upon to target him during the Democratic primary campaign. 

"Those NDAs were signed 30 years ago," Taylor said in an interview with CBS News after a "Women for Mike" event in Houston Monday night. "They have come up in every single solitary election he has ever been in. And in none of them was he accused of doing anything, saying something nasty to a woman. That is not who he is. Life has changed. I grew up in that world. It was a bro culture."

Some of Bloomberg's Democratic rivals attacked him over sexist comments he allegedly made and said that women were being silenced by the agreements. Bloomberg, on the debate stage, said that he hadn't done anything wrong or been accused of "doing anything, other than maybe they didn't like a joke I told." 

On Friday, Bloomberg announced that he would allow women to be released from NDAs that were signed over "complaints about comments they said I had made." The women could be released from the NDAs if they asked to be. Bloomberg L.P. said it had identified three agreements that fell into this category over the past 30-plus years.

"It was 30 years ago. Get over it," Taylor said, in response to a question about what she would tell people who were concerned about the allegations against Bloomberg or his response at the debate. In a statement to CBS News, Erin McPike, a spokesperson for Taylor, said the comments reflected Taylor's personal view.

"Diana offered her personal view from her forty years working in finance, not the view of the campaign," McPike said.

During her speech in Texas, Taylor talked about starting her career in finance decades ago. She recalled "birthday parties on trading floors with strippers" and meetings at "men only clubs where we, women, had to go up the back set of stairs because we were not allowed in the public rooms. That was the culture back then." She added that because of hard work from "many, many brave people, we live in a different world now" although, she said, "we still need more change."

"It takes time to change a culture. We have come a very, very long way and Michael Bloomberg has been at the forefront of that change," Taylor told CBS News following the event, after repeating the stories about strippers and meetings at men's clubs. 

The Bloomberg campaign has the largest staff of any presidential campaign in Texas and has made the delegate-rich state a priority. Taylor campaigned Monday and Tuesday in cities across Texas, which holds its primary March 3, known as Super Tuesday. There are 228 pledged delegates are at stake in Texas, the second highest total on Super Tuesday.

"I recognize that NDAs, particularly when they are used in the context of sexual harassment and sexual assault, promote a culture of silence in the workplace and contribute to a culture of women not feeling safe or supported," Bloomberg said in a statement last week, when he announced that some of the women would be released from their NDAs. "It is imperative that when problems occur, workplaces not only address the specific incidents, but the culture and practices that led to those incidents. And then leaders must act."

A senior campaign aide confirmed to CBS News that one of the three women identified is Sekiko Sakai Garrison, a former sales rep who personally sued Bloomberg for discrimination and alleged that when she told Bloomberg she was pregnant, he told her to "kill it." Bloomberg has denied that allegation under oath.

In that statement last Friday, Bloomberg added that his company would no longer use NDAs to settle claims of sexual misconduct in the future.

"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," Bloomberg said.

The announcement releasing some women — but not all — from their NDAs didn't satisfy some of Bloomberg's opponents.

"That's just not good enough," Elizabeth Warren said on Friday. "Michael Bloomberg needs to do a blanket release, so that all women who have been muzzled by non-disclosure agreements can step up and tell their side of the story in terms of what Michael Bloomberg has done."

"If Mayor Bloomberg wanted to release all current and former Bloomberg LP employees from NDAs, he surely could have done so — and he still can and should," Kate Bedingfeld, communications director for Joe Biden, said in a statement on Friday.

Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey tweeted a response on Friday to Warren's comments saying, "To be clear: 3 is the total number of NDAs that have been IDed over thirty+ years pertaining directly to Mike."

Taylor also pushed back against the criticisms on Monday night, saying that two parties are involved in an NDA and some people don't want to be released.

"An NDA is an agreement between two parties, you can't just do a blanket release," Taylor said. "Because I am betting you that there are people who don't want their NDAs released. There's a reason it's an NDA. It's a two-way agreement. You can't just say, 'I'm going to publish this.' That would be illegal."

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