Two dozen staffers who worked on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign have asked the senator for a meeting to discuss “the issue of sexual violence and harassment” during the last campaign.
“We — the people who worked on Bernie 2016 — know that much of the success of our campaign was due to the intense commitment, passion and sacrifice of women, people of color and LGBT staffers,” said the letter, which was published by Politico. “In recent weeks there has been an ongoing conversation on social media, in texts, and in person, about the untenable and dangerous dynamic that developed during our campaign.”
The letter does not detail any specific instances of sexual violence or harassment but calls on top officials from the campaign to participate in the meeting.
“We are addressing what happened on the Bernie campaign but as people that work in this space we see that all campaigns are extremely dangerous to women and marginalized people and we are attempting to fix that,” one of the staffers who signed the letter told Politico.
The letter requested “a productive statement on harassment in the campaign environment,” “a follow-up plan for implementing sexual harassment policies and procedures” and “a commitment to hiring diverse leadership to pre-empt the possibility of replicating the predatory culture from the first presidential campaign.”
Bernie campaign acknowledges “HR actions”:
"We thank the signers of the letter for their willingness to engage in this incredibly important discussion," Friends of Bernie Sanders, the senator’s main campaign committee, said in a statement. "We always welcome hearing the experiences and views of our former staff. We also value their right to come to us in a private way so their confidences and privacy are respected. And we will honor this principle with respect to this private letter."
“During 2016 there were a number of HR actions taken,” the statement said, which ranged from “employee counseling to immediate termination from the campaign.”
The committee said the campaign has implemented a new toll-free hotline where staffers can make reports and requirements for all volunteers and staffers to undergo training.
Campaigns dogged by allegations:
Along with allegations of harassment and sexual violence on the Sanders campaign, a top aide to Sen. Kamala Harris, another likely 2020 contender, resigned earlier this month after it was discovered he settled a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination and retaliation while Harris was still California’s attorney general.