In shift, Bloomberg offers ex-campaign staff health coverage

Politics

Former Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg waves to supporters as he announces the suspension of his campaign and his endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden for president in New York Wednesday , March 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Mike Bloomberg will cover the cost of health care for his former presidential campaign staffers through November, reversing course on a decision that had prompted outrage and sparked lawsuits against the billionaire businessman.

Bloomberg had initially enticed staffers to join his long-shot presidential campaign by offering generous benefits and pay and promising them employment through November, even if he didn’t win the Democratic nomination. Bloomberg initially indicated that, even if he didn’t win the nomination, he would transition his campaign apparatus into an independent entity working to help the Democratic Party defeat President Donald Trump.

Those commitments helped the candidate build out a staff of thousands across 43 states within months of his late entry into the race. But after winning just one U.S. territory during the March 3 Super Tuesday primary contests, Bloomberg bowed out of the race the next day and laid off most of his staff soon afterward.

That move prompted former Bloomberg campaign staffers to launch a number of lawsuits alleging the former New York City mayor had lied about the terms of their employment.

But on Monday, former campaign staffers received an email from the human resources department citing the “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the coronavirus outbreak and offering to cover health care costs through November.

“We hope you and your families are safe and well,” the email reads. “We know this continues to be a difficult and stressful time for everyone as we all aim to keep ourselves, our families and communities safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Given these extraordinary circumstances, the campaign will cover the cost of COBRA through November 2020.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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