Image: Michael Bloomberg
Lucas Jackson  /  Reuters file
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has denied plans to seek the presidency, but he recently became an independent and has increased out-of-state travel.
updated 7/29/2007 11:16:15 AM ET 2007-07-29T15:16:15

Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks his mind and that is a big part of his appeal in anything-goes New York.

But a sexual harassment lawsuit he settled in 2000 and other racy comments over the years show how his blunt style could prove a liability if he runs for president as an independent.

Before his election as mayor in 2001, Bloomberg was the target of a sexual harassment lawsuit by a female executive who accused him of making repeated raunchy sexual comments while he was chief executive of his financial company, Bloomberg LP.

Bloomberg denied the accusations. Both sides were barred from commenting because of confidentiality agreements. Stu Loeser, the mayor's spokesman, said Friday he had no comment for this story.

The lawsuit was a minor annoyance for Bloomberg during the mayoral race in 2001 and was not an issue in his 2005 re-election.

But the lawsuit and other potential embarrassments resulting from Bloomberg's tendency to speak his mind are largely unknown to the rest of the country and are certain to be re-examined if the billionaire media mogul undertakes a third-party, self-financed presidential campaign for 2008.

Bloomberg has denied having any plans to seek the presidency. Yet he recently left the Republican Party to become an independent and has increased his out-of-state travel.

On Thursday, Bloomberg rejected speculation that his trips to key states are part of an effort to test public sentiment for a U.S. presidential bid. On Wednesday, he delivered a speech on education at the National Urban League conference in St. Louis on Wednesday.

"People assume you are running for president when you just say, 'Look these are issues that I care about,'" Bloomberg told ABC television's "Good Morning America." "Why should only presidential candidates focus on that? I think we all have an obligation."

No plans for presidential run, he says
Bloomberg repeated that he has no plans to run for president in 2008 and said he does not want the vice presidency, either. He said he had 890 days left in his mayoral term — "but who's counting" — and would serve them all, which would take him to the end of 2009.

"I've got a job and it's a great job, and I'm going to finish this job," Bloomberg said. "And my next career is going to be in philanthropy."

The harassment lawsuit was filed in 1997 by former Bloomberg LP sales executive Sekiko Sakai Garrison. Bloomberg adamantly denied the allegations and settled the case in 2000 for an undisclosed amount without admitting any wrongdoing.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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