House

Sanders campaign staffer who ignored harassment complaints resigns as new Dem's chief of staff: report

Bill Velazquez, chief of staff to freshman Rep. Jesús 'Chuy' Garcia (D-Ill.), resigned after one day on the job after an explosive New York Times report said he mishandled sexual misconduct claims while he worked on Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) presidential campaign.

Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli, Garcia's communications director, said the resignation was accepted Friday.

"They both agreed that the recent media stories that involved Bill had become a distraction from the work the Congressman needs to do for the people of Illinois' 4th Congressional District, and from the work Bill was brought in to do," she said in a statement to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Garcia's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The Times reported that Velazquez, a manager on the Latino outreach team on Sanders's campaign, laughed off a staffer's claim that a supervisor ran his hands through her hair in a "sexual way" while the two were traveling together. 

"I bet you would have liked it if he were younger," Velazquez reportedly told Giulianna Di Lauro when she recounted the incident. 

Velazquez told The New York Times that he did not recall making the remarks and took the complaint seriously.

The Times report also noted that nearly a dozen female staffers on the campaign said they were harassed and that their superiors handled their claims improperly. 

Sanders said this week he was unaware of the harassment claims in the campaign, telling CNN "I was a little bit busy running around the country, trying to make the case," and that he would "do better next time" if he runs again in 2020.

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