Diana Taylor, the longtime partner of Michael Bloomberg, this week defended the presidential candidate’s use of nondisclosure agreements, telling those who may be bothered by them: “It was 30 years ago. Get over it.”
Her remarks came in an interview with CBS News on Monday night after a “Women for Mike Rally” in Houston. Mr. Bloomberg, a three-term former mayor of New York City, was criticized at last week’s Democratic presidential debate in Nevada over his treatment of women.
Ms. Taylor, 65, said during the interview that Mr. Bloomberg, 78, had not been accused of doing anything except “saying something nasty to a woman.”
She said the accusations did not reflect who Mr. Bloomberg is, but rather revealed a “bro culture” that existed at the time — a culture that she said she grew up in but has since changed.
“We have come a very, very long way,” Ms. Taylor said, “and Michael Bloomberg has been at the forefront of that change.”
Ms. Taylor’s remarks, which were broadcast on Tuesday — hours before the Democratic candidates’ debate in South Carolina — came three days after Mr. Bloomberg said he was willing to release three women from nondisclosure agreements with his company, reversing his stance from last week’s debate.
Ms. Taylor’s comments drew criticism from some who said that she was being insensitive to women who have faced harassment and discrimination.
Erin McPike, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign, responded to the criticism on Tuesday, saying that Ms. Taylor had the utmost respect for women and was addressing the difficult workplace culture that they had endured for decades.
“She was one of three women in a group of 100 new associates at Smith Barney in the ’80s,” Ms. McPike said on Twitter. “No one is happier than Diana that we are learning from the past and improving workplaces for women.”
Mr. Bloomberg, who was challenged at last week’s debate by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to release women from nondisclosure agreements with his company, said in a statement on Friday that they could contact his company if they want to be released from the agreements and publicly discuss their complaints about him.
“I’ve done a lot of reflecting on this issue over the past few days and 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,” Mr. Bloomberg said in the statement.
Ms. Taylor, who met Mr. Bloomberg in 2000, acted as the de facto first lady of New York City during Mr. Bloomberg’s three-term tenure as mayor.
A graduate of Dartmouth with an M.B.A. and a degree in public health from Columbia University, Ms. Taylor has pursued a multifaceted career — from Wall Street to government work.
She oversaw New York state’s sprawling public authorities system as an aide to Gov. George E. Pataki, and in 2003 was named superintendent of banking, with authority over thousands of financial institutions. Ms. Taylor was a managing director at Wolfensohn Fund Management, lent her financial acumen to boards as diverse as that of Citigroup, Sotheby’s and the Hudson River Park Trust and briefly considered campaigning for a Senate seat in 2010.