Sanders Apologizes for Harassment Among 2016 Campaign Staff

(Bloomberg) -- Senator Bernie Sanders apologized Thursday to women who said they were subjected to sexual harassment or misconduct while working for his 2016 presidential campaign.

“To the women in our campaign who were harassed or mistreated I apologize,” Sanders said at a news conference Thursday. “Our standards, our procedures, our safeguards, were clearly inadequate.”

The Vermont independent is confronting the allegations against some of his senior staff as he weighs a second run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. But accounts of harassment from women who worked on his last campaign threaten to tarnish his image as a progressive and come at a time when female voters are central to the Democratic Party’s strategy for defeating President Donald Trump.

The New York Times on Jan. 2 published accounts from women who worked for the campaign complained of sexual harassment and pay disparities. Politico reported Wednesday night that the head of Sanders’s Iowa caucus campaign in 2016 has been accused of forcibly kissing a female subordinate on the final night of the Democratic National Convention in July 2016.

Sanders’s comments on Thursday were more direct and conciliatory that his initial responses to reports of the allegations. Sanders had issued an apology and said he wasn’t aware of the incidents at the time. “I was a little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case,” Sanders said last week during a CNN interview.

On Thursday, he thanked the women who have come forward. “What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign or any campaign should be about,” Sanders said.

Sanders said that his 2018 Senate re-election campaign had more robust protections for women. All staff were required to take sexual harassment training and campaign workers were allowed to voice concerns to an independent human resources firm.

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