Shut Your Mouth

Big-Bucks Bloomy buys corporate silence in six sex and race cases

But just how Bloomberg has kept this high-six-figure executive with young twins happy is a financial mystery. She appears three times on the 2005 filings of Bloomberg's committee for a skimpy total of $1,099, all as reimbursements for expenses she advanced the campaign, starting in June. One of her close friends, ex–Bloomberg executive Susette Franklin, says she has met and talked with Calzone a few times this year, even attending a Women for Bloomberg event. "I would've assumed she was paid by the campaign," Franklin says. Calls to Bloomberg's main headquarters connect to her voice mail, but Loeser could not explain how she was paid.

Elizabeth DeMarse: Marketing director at the company, DeMarse hit the headlines in 2001 when she confirmed that she'd compiled a 32-page pamphlet of offensive Bloomberg quotes given to him on his 50th birthday. She told New York magazine that Bloomberg "says this stuff"—a collection of sex and race gags—"to customers and new hires and anyone who comes into the office. These are his lines. Everything in there I've heard him say many times. I sat next to him for seven years." One quip was that "if women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they'd go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale's."

But then Bloomberg lawyers called her and told her not to "answer any questions about the company or Bloomberg himself." According to news accounts at the time, she said she was restricted by a confidentiality agreement she signed as part of a severance package. Bloomberg said his lawyers were doing "what they're supposed to do" and told reporters not "to waste your time asking" that he allow DeMarse to speak out. In fact, the heat got so intense DeMarse left town for Florida during the general election campaign, sources said. The concern was not just the racy booklet, but that DeMarse had reportedly been a witness to the "kill it" comment in the Garrison case, as well as to Bloomberg's conflicting voice mail call.

Burton Waddy: A top black executive at the company until June 2005, he left deeply disturbed about comments he regarded as racial that were allegedly made by Bloomberg. Three people who have talked to him about these comments say that he reached an apparent settlement with the firm not to discuss the remarks. Peter Noel, a former Voice reporter who is now a freelance writer and radio host, says that he conducted taped interviews "three years ago" with Waddy and Harold Doley III, a high-ranking black employee of the 2001 Bloomberg campaign. Noel says that they told him "damaging" stories about Bloomberg, but that he could not discuss the specifics because Waddy had subsequently asked him not to.

Doley confirmed that he and Waddy had talked to Noel on tape, but Waddy referred the Voice to his attorney, Denise Bonnaig, who would not answer any questions. Doley said Waddy was "bellicose" about these Bloomberg comments until this April, when he was "shut down." While two of these sources did indicate what some of these comments were, neither would go on the record about them for fear of hurting Waddy. That's why the Voice will not print any of these alleged remarks.

The six sagas here are both unsettling and incomplete. The confidentiality blanket that covers them gives each episode a powerfully suggestive aura short of definitive fact, but the cumulative picture that emerges is one of a corporate Bloomberg awash in unusual personnel problems either connected to his own unhinged repartee or his company's insensitive policies.

As mayor and candidate, Bloomberg often lays claim to the company's progressive initiatives, telling gay groups, for example, about its enlightened health care coverage for unmarried spouses. In the same spirit, he has to accept responsibility for its dark side, depicted in the handling of these individuals. He created Bloomberg L.P., still owns 72 percent of it, and is said to periodically involve himself, ever so discreetly, in its big business decisions. It remains a window into his inner world, however clouded, and part of the portrait of him every voter should know.

Research assistance: Jessica Bennett, K. Emily Bond, Ben James, Lee Norsworthy, Xana O'Neill, and Nicholas Powers

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