Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg has come under fire recently for his association with Harvey Weinstein, the embattled movie mogul who is currently awaiting a jury’s decision in his New York City rape and sexual assault trial.
Bloomberg’s relationship with Weinstein, 67, has been no secret, but resurfaced earlier this month when a video from 2013 was brought to light in which the disgraced moviemaker thanked the then-New York City mayor for his support in the wake of the devastating economic recession of 2009.
“I called our mayor, and I just said, ‘you know, things are a little topsy-turvy here at the company, you know, we’d be moving jobs to California and we don’t want to leave New York City.’ And the mayor, extremely busy as he was with so many more important things, dropped a lot of things and got it done for us,” Weinstein said, according to the video, which was shared by the Daily Caller. “And I don’t think Bob [Weinstein] and I would be on this stage if the mayor wasn’t there for us, so thank you, mayor.”
The speech was made before any sexual misconduct allegations were made against Weinstein, Bloomberg campaign spokesperson Julie Wood told the Daily Caller. Weinstein has now reportedly been accused by more than 100 women, but there is nothing to indicate Bloomberg had any knowledge of Weinstein's behavior.
“This video is from four years before the truth about Harvey Weinstein was known, when he was known for helping raise tens of millions of dollars for 9/11 responders and for helping to spur Lower Manhattan’s rebirth,” Wood told the outlet. “This video shows New York City thanking Weinstein for his role in that, and again, it was four years before the truth about Harvey was known.”
Reps for Bloomberg’s campaign did not respond to FOX Business’ requests seeking comment.
Weinstein was accompanied by his brother, Bob Weinstein, at the event, where he also reportedly made a sexual reference in recounting how the brothers first got into the movie business.
“The reason Bob and I became fond of independent foreign films is because when we were 14-year-old boys and our hormones were raging, we saw an ad for the Mayfair movie theater…and it said 'the 400 blows,' and we thought it was something else,” he told the star-studded audience.
Weinstein has stood trial over the past several weeks facing multiple allegations of rape sexual assault, some of which stems back as far as 1994, when "Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra says he showed up unexpectedly at the door of her Manhattan apartment before barging in and raping and forcibly performing oral sex on her. Weinstein has maintained that all sexual activity was consensual.
Sciorra's accusations are key to the most serious charges that jurors are weighing in the closely watched #MeToo case — two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. The charge requires prosecutors to show that a defendant committed a prior rape or other sex crime, but doesn't have the statue of limitation constraints that would bar her allegations from consideration on their own.
Bloomberg, 78, has previously been in hot water of his own over sexual harassment allegations made by employees who then signed non-disclosure agreements.
He was caught flat-footed during much of Wednesday night's presidential debate when rival Elizabeth Warren blasted his company's use of non-disclosure agreements in cases of sexual harassment. She sought to portray such agreements as endemic of a broader culture of sexism at the company, Bloomberg LP, when he was CEO.
Bloomberg responded by saying those who alleged misconduct “didn't like a joke I told" and argued that non-disclosure agreements were “consensual" deals supported by the women involved.
Weinstein and Bloomberg appeared to have built a close working relationship as early as 2001, when the filmmaker supported the then-Republican’s bid for Big Apple mayor, despite his previous and public support of Bloomberg’s rival at the time.
Bloomberg won the mayoral election, and his friendship with Weinstein continued, the Daily Mail reported.
In May 2006, the Mayor’s Office put out a press release with Weinstein to announce that financing for the city’s Film Production Tax Credit Program had increased by $30 million.
As part of the news, Bloomberg stopped by the set of The Weinstein Company-produced movie, “The Nanny Diaries,” starring Scarlett Johansen and Chris Evans.
They were photographed through the years, both during and after Bloomberg’s three mayoral terms, according to the Mail.
Weinstein joined Bloomberg at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in 2009 to celebrate that Beacon Theatre’s reopening, the outlet reported.
In July 2010, the pair was photographed walking with Bloomberg's longtime girlfriend, Diana Taylor, in Sun Valley, Idaho, where they were attending a conference, the Mail revealed.
In addition to the 2013 event where Weinstein made his now-criticized “400 blows” speech, he was photographed with Bloomberg roughly a year later at Bloomberg Businessweek's 85th Anniversary party in New York City. They were also spotted together at a Bloomberg business function in 2014.
But another Bloomberg campaign rep, Stu Loeser, insisted to the Mail the men “were never close.”
“When Mike was Mayor, New York’s film industry almost tripled in size and employed over 100,000 people a year as film companies and film production came back to New York,” Loeser said. He reiterated much of what Wood said regarding the 2013 video. “And film company executives gave back to New York – many years before the truth about Harvey Weinstein was known.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.