Sanders apologizes amid harassment allegations involving 2016 campaign

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHarris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 2020 Dems put spotlight on disabilities issues Lee, Sanders introduce bill to tax Wall Street transactions MORE (I-Vt.) on Thursday apologized to women who allege they were sexually harassed while working on his 2016 presidential campaign.

"To the women in our campaign who were harassed on the street, I apologize — our standards, our procedures, our safeguards were clearly inadequate,” the potential 2020 contender told reporters Thursday at a press conference on prescription drug prices.

His remarks came after The New York Times and Politico published articles with allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct pertaining to the 2016 campaign.

When asked if he was aware of the allegations at the time, Sanders said “no.”

He also denied knowing about a discrimination settlement reached with his campaign that was disclosed in a Politico story.

“It appears that as a part of our campaign, there were some women who are harassed on the street — and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for speaking out,” Sanders said on Thursday. “What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign or any campaign should be about.”

“The allegations that I have heard, that you have heard, speak to unacceptable behavior that must not be tolerated in any campaign, or in any workplace in our country,” he said, adding that his 2018 Senate reelection campaign changed its approach to dealing with sexual harassment.

“We established some of the strongest, sexual harassment policies in the country. They include training for all employees on this issue and also an opportunity for any woman who believed that she was harassed to be able to call an independent human resources firm outside of the campaign to voice her concerns,” Sanders said.

He also called for a "cultural revolution, to change workplace attitudes and behavior” to ensure that “every woman in this country” can work in an “environment which is free of harassment.”

— Molly K. Hooper