Sanders apologizes amid harassment allegations against 2016 campaign aide

Sanders apologizes amid harassment allegations against 2016 campaign aide
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersMichael Bennet 'encouraged' in possible presidential bid: report House Dems unveil measure to reject anti-Israel boycotts Bannon says an O'Rourke-Harris ticket poses the greatest threat to Trump in 2020 MORE (I-Vt.) apologized on Thursday to female staffers on his 2016 presidential campaign who allege that they experienced sexual harassment, acknowledging that the campaign’s procedures for addressing such issues were “clearly inadequate.”

Sanders’s remarks came after Politico reported allegations from one female former staffer that a top aide, Robert Becker, forcibly kissed her during an outing in 2016.

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“It appears that as part of our campaign there was some women who were harassed or mistreated, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for speaking out,” Sanders told reporters at a news conference to roll out a prescription drug bill.

“What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign or any campaign should be about.”

The allegations published by Politico late Wednesday night were only the latest to touch Sanders’s 2016 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The New York Times reported last week on allegations from nearly a dozen women who worked for Sanders’s campaign that they were harassed and that their complaints were handled improperly.

The slew of allegations comes as Sanders weighs a presidential run in 2020. Friends of Bernie, Sanders’s Senate campaign committee, told Politico that Becker would not be part of any of the senator’s future campaigns.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Sanders called for a “cultural revolution to change workplace attitudes and behavior.” He noted that during his 2018 Senate reelection bid, his campaign implemented “some of the strongest sexual harassment policies in the country,” including training for staffers and the use of an outside human resources firm that aides could call to report concerns.

“Every woman in this country who goes to work today or tomorrow has the right to make sure she is working in an environment that is free of harassment, which is safe and which is comfortable,” Sanders said. “And I will do my best to make sure that happens.”

Peter Sullivan contributed.