Amid mounting allegations that his 2016 presidential campaign was plagued by sexual harassment, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders issued a formal apology to the women, thanking them for speaking out and lamenting that his campaign’s “standards and safeguards were inadequate.”
On Thursday afternoon, Sanders released a statement on Twitter, admitting that “there were some women who were harassed or mistreated.” The response comes less than 24 hours after Politico published a piece detailing accusations that one of Sanders’s top advisers had forcibly kissed a subordinate woman in her 20s, and one week after the New York Times reported allegations from nearly a dozen former campaign workers who say they were harassed and that their claims went ignored.
“What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign or any campaign should be about,” wrote Sanders, who is expected to run in 2020. “When we talk about ending sexism and all forms of discrimination, those beliefs cannot just be words. They must be reality in our day to day lives and the work we do — and that was clearly not the case in the 2016 campaign.”
Because sexual harassment is pervasive in political campaigns, some potential 2020 presidential campaigns are reportedly performing background checks into top staffers to ensure they have no history of misconduct. 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.
“It used to be that campaigns wanted to look a certain way on the outside, but internally it was still the white boys in charge of the work,” political strategist Rebecca Katz told HuffPost. “And that is changing fast. … I’ve been in this business for over two decades, and all I can say is, finally.”