Sanders Apologizes for Harassment Among 2016 Campaign Staff

Bernie Sanders at a George Washington University event in Washington

Bernie Sanders at a George Washington University event in Washington

Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has apologized to female staff members from his 2016 presidential campaign who have said they were sexually harassed by co-workers - including one who was expected to play a role in a potential 2020 bid. 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.

"When we talk about ending sexism, and ending all forms of discrimination, those beliefs can not just be words, " Sanders said.

Sanders' new apology comes after Politico reported on an allegation a female campaign staffer made against Robert Becker, who oversaw Sanders' Iowa campaign and other operations.

The woman said Becker, now 50, approached her at a bar on the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, grabbed her wrists and kissed her, forcing his tongue in her mouth.

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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 objective of planning to mitigate the issue in the upcoming presidential cycle".

After the story came out, Sanders apologized on CNN to "any woman who feels like she was not treated appropriately" and said he wasn't aware of the problems at the time. "You can't run for President of the United States unless you acknowledge that every campaign demands a safe work environment for every employee and volunteer", the woman continued.

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

He projected more contrition on Thursday, saying that "our standards, our procedures, our safeguards, were clearly inadequate". It must be a reality in our daily lives.

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"Candidates who allow people like Robert Becker to lead their organizations shouldn't earn the highest office in our government", she said in a statement.

The Vermont senator's campaign committee, Friends of Bernie Sanders, said Becker "would not be a part of any future campaigns". Though the allegations against Sanders' campaign are far-reaching, the issue of sexual harassment has been pervasive across the political spectrum and beyond, as brought to light in the wake of the Me Too movement.

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. Additionally, numerous women have complained they were paid less than men and forced into inappropriate and uncomfortable situations, according to The New York Times.

"Yes, I was a little bit busy running around the country trynna make the case", he said when asked if he had missed the harassment on his campaign.

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