Bernie Sanders apologizes to female campaign staff who experienced harassment

Erika Holt
January 13, 2019

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders apologized Thursday following multiple allegations of harassment and mistreatment of women by staffers on his 2016 presidential campaign.

"To women in our campaign who were harassed or mistreated, I apologise", the Vermont independent wrote in a statement on Twitter on Thursday.

Politico reported late Wednesday that Robert Becker - who oversaw Sanders' 2016 Iowa campaign, then helped lead his efforts in Michigan, California and NY as deputy national field director - allegedly approached a 20-year-old campaign staffer, grabbed her wrists and forcibly kissed her, "putting his tongue in her mouth as he held her".

Over two dozen 2016 campaign staff alumni wrote a letter seeking a meeting with Sanders to "discuss the issue of sexual violence and harassment on the 2016 campaign, for the goal of planning to mitigate the issue in the upcoming presidential cycle". Other organizations, like the Illinois Anti-Harassment, Equality and Access Panel and the Campaign Workers Guild labor union, have centered their work around sexual misconduct in campaigns. "And that is changing fast".

The adviser, Robert Becker, has denied any wrongdoing. On Wednesday, longtime Sanders aide Jeff Weaver, who served as campaign manager during the 2016 run, said he wouldn't reprise the role in the event of another presidential campaign.

They said that later that evening, "Becker approached the woman and abruptly grabbed her wrists".

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"It just really sucks, because no one ever held him accountable". They claimed that, when they detailed those concerns to campaign superiors, they were sometimes ignored, and in one case, laughed off.

Asked about the accusation, Friends of Bernie Sanders, the senator's main campaign committee, told Politico that "Robert Becker would not be part of any future campaigns". This can't happen in 2020. What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign or any campaign should be about, ' he said Thursday on Capitol Hill.

Becker denied the allegations to Politico. Nevertheless, said Bannon, "I think he will run".

Sanders had apologized before, albeit not in such a comprehensive fashion.

At the time the woman, who was in her 20s and wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from supporters of Sanders and Becker, chose not to report the incident because the campaign was over.

Becker has been conducting unaffiliated Sanders campaign work in recent months, which included calling potential staffers and traveling to early primary states to prepare for a possible presidential run. He outlined what steps his 2018 Senate re-election campaign had taken to prevent sexual harassment, including training on the issue for all employees.

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