Former New York City mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has been nominated to serve as the chair of the Defense Innovation Board, a Defense Department spokesperson announced Wednesday.
“Mr. Bloomberg … will bring a wealth of experience in technology, innovation, business and government to the Defense Innovation Board,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.
The Defense Innovation Board was created in 2016 as an independent panel to advise senior Pentagon leaders on what they say are “three focus areas: people and culture, technology and capabilities, and practices and operations.”
Kirby said Bloomberg’s leadership “will be critical to ensuring the department has access to the best and brightest minds in science, technology and innovation through the teams of diverse experts that he will lead as chair of that board.”
Bloomberg welcomed the news of his nomination.
“I’m honored to work with Secretary Austin, Deputy Secretary Hicks, other senior Defense Department leaders and innovators from government and business to help bring new ideas and outside perspective that can help protect Americans and our values, interests, and allies around the world,” he said in a statement to CNN.
Before running for mayor of New York City in 2001 as a Republican, Bloomberg was a successful entrepreneur whose company creates software for the financial industry.
He has been listed as the 20th richest man in the world, with a net worth of $59 billion as of 2021, according to Forbes.
After serving three terms as mayor of New York, Bloomberg ran for president in November 2019 but dropped out the following March after his campaign failed to gain traction.
He subsequently endorsed Joe Biden and threw millions of dollars behind his campaign.
During his campaign, Bloomberg faced accusations of sexist and misogynist behavior, including claims from the 1990s that prior to a male colleague’s wedding, Bloomberg told a group of female employees to “line up to give him a blow job as a wedding present”; that he would regularly direct comments like “look at that nice piece of ass” at women in the office; and that upon learning that a female employee was expecting a baby, he responded: “Kill it!”
Bloomberg denied making the “kill it” remark and other comments laid out in at least two lawsuits, but also acknowledged that he made comments he said did not align with his values.
Bloomberg’s nomination comes months after the Defense Department said it would implement the 80 recommendations of an independent review commission on sexual harassment and assault in the military, after facing years of criticism from victims, advocates and lawmakers for the department’s handling of the issues.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin nominated Bloomberg “to leverage his experience and strategic insights on innovation, business and public service,” according to Kirby.
“Obviously the secretary is very grateful that Mr. Bloomberg was willing to take this additional responsibility on,” Kirby said of the nomination, “and very grateful that he’s willing to serve in that capacity.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.