Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman who is expected to join the Democratic presidential race, acknowledged that he’s made “disrespectful” comments about women after The New York Times resurfaced a batch of sexist jokes he allegedly made nearly 30 years ago.
“Mike has come to see that some of what he has said is disrespectful and wrong,” Stu Loeser, a spokesman for Bloomberg, told the Times in a statement Wednesday. “He believes his words have not always aligned with his values and the way he has led his life.”
In a report published Thursday, the Times resurfaced a booklet created by colleagues at Bloomberg’s company and presented to him as a birthday gift in 1990 that contained off-color quips attributed to Bloomberg.
“If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale’s,” Bloomberg joked, according to the booklet.
In another line, Bloomberg is said to have joked that the computer terminal his company invented “will do everything, including give you” oral sex.
“I guess that puts a lot of you girls out of business,” Bloomberg added, according to the booklet.
The birthday gag gift sparked backlash during Bloomberg’s run for New York City mayor in 2001, though he shrugged off the comments as “Borscht Belt jokes” and said he did not recall making them.
As the Times noted, discussion of the booklet subsided with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Bloomberg went on to win the mayoral race and hold the office for three consecutive terms.