Four former workers for Michael Bloomberg's presidential campaign in Texas are suing him for fraud, alleging that he went back on a promise to pay them through the November election.
In lawsuits filed Monday in Tarrant County, the former workers say the Democratic candidate promised that even if he dropped out — as he did earlier this month — he would continue to employ them through November "no matter what." Each is seeking $42,000 in wages in addition to lost health insurance benefits, for a total capped at $75,000.
The lawsuits are apparently the first of their type in Texas against Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, who faces a growing uproar nationwide from former staffers. They also come as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread in Texas and across the country, an especially harrowing situation for the unemployed and for those without health insurance.
The former workers in Texas, who were all organizers, are Abdoulaye Gueye, Argunda Jefferson, Gregory Snow and Melinda Hamilton. All are from Tarrant County except for Snow, who resides in neighboring Parker County.
Each plaintiff says he or she agreed not to disparage Bloomberg while working for him or afterward. "If plaintiff knew that Mike Bloomberg would go back on his word much in the style of Donald Trump, he never would have agreed to not bad mouth Bloomberg," the lawsuits say.
Bloomberg laid off all his remaining staff members last week as he transferred $18 million in campaign funds to the Democratic National Committee instead of creating an independent political group, as he initially promised. He now faces potential class-action lawsuits over the layoffs.
Asked about the Tarrant County lawsuits, a Bloomberg spokesperson said in statement that the campaign's wages and benefits were "much more generous" than those of any other campaign this year. The statement also said, in light of the coronavirus outbreak, "a fund is being created to ensure that all staff receive healthcare through April."
Delegate-rich Texas was a major part of Bloomberg's strategy of skipping the first few early voting states and effectively beginning his campaign on Super Tuesday, or March 3. While he had built the biggest campaign in Texas of any candidate, he finished third here, suspended his campaign the next day and endorsed Joe Biden, now the presumptive nominee.
Jason Smith, a Fort Worth lawyer representing the former campaign workers in Texas, said they are "calling on the DNC and the Biden campaign to return all donations and pause any further help until Bloomberg lives up to his promises to his campaign workers."