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Sanders Apologizes for Harassment Among 2016 Campaign Staff

Sanders Apologizes for Harassment Among 2016 Campaign Staff

Sanders staffers have been actively discussing the need for significant differences in the gender makeup in the leadership of any future presidential campaign.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic candidate for president in 2016 apologized to women working on his 2016 presidential campaign, shortly after a report that a female staffer said one of his top advisers forcibly tried to kiss her the night of the Democratic National Convention. But he also apologized to "any woman who felt that she was not treated appropriately", adding that if he does decide to run again he would "do better".

Becker grabbed the same woman's wrists later in the night, then moved his hands to her head and forcibly kissed her, putting his tongue in her mouth, according to the woman and other sources.

Becker has since denied the allegations.

More than two dozen former staffers recently sent a letter to Sanders and his aides, seeking a meeting regarding the "sexual violence and harassment on the 2016 campaign" ahead of another bid for the presidency.

The accuser said she did not alert higher-ups on the campaign team about the incident due to the campaign being over.

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you we did everything right in terms of human resources", said Sanders.

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"Candidates who allow people like Robert Becker to lead their organizations shouldn't earn the highest office in our government", she said, adding, "It just really sucks because no one ever held him accountable and he kept pushing and pushing and seeing how much he could get away with". This can't happen in 2020.

The woman did not formally report the incident at the time, but was prompted to speak out after Becker, who is reportedly not on Sanders' payroll, "has been calling potential staffers and traveling to early primary states to prepare for another presidential run - activities that Sanders' top aides did not endorse, but did not disavow, either".

Allegations of sexual misconduct and an "untenable and risky dynamic that developed during [the Sanders] campaign" have dogged the Vermont senator in recent weeks, according to Politico. The alleged assault, he wrote, is "at odds with my recollection of a late evening filled with many hugs and kisses and tears and conversations about what's next". "What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign or any campaign should be about", Sanders said.

Todd noted that other accusations had drawn a sense of a "pervasive culture of toxic masculinity" on the 2016 campaign.

He thanked the women who did come forward with complaints of sexual misconduct and ensured that his 2018 Senate re-election campaign had "established some of the strongest sexual harassment policies in the country".

The allegations have cast a shadow on Sanders' potential 2020 run in a likely crowded field of Democratic contenders. Sanders denied knowing about the settlement to reporters.