Bernie Sanders Apologizes To Female Staffers Sexually Harassed During His 2016 Campaign

Bernie Sanders apologized Thursday for "unacceptable" sexual harassment that occurred on his 2016 presidential campaign, directly addressing an issue that could weigh on the senator's potential 2020 White House bid. "What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign, or any campaign, should be about..."

He says rhetoric about "ending sexism and ending all forms of discrimination. can not just be words".

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 almost a dozen former campaign workers who say they were harassed and that their claims went ignored.

The woman said Becker, now 50, approached her at a bar on the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, grabbed her wrists and kissed her, forcing his tongue in her mouth.

Last week, amid multiple reports detailing allegations of sexual harassment and pay disparities during the 2016 campaign, Sanders offered a public apology to "any woman who felt that she was not treated appropriately". "To the women in our campaign who were harassed or mistreated, I apologize", he said at a press conference.

The reports of harassment are raising questions about whether Sanders can launch a second presidential campaign. "I apologize", Sanders tweeted on Thursday.

In his statement Thursday, Sanders admitted his 2016 campaign's "standards and safeguards were inadequate". It must be a reality in our daily lives.

"To be clear: no one who committed sexual harassment in 2016 would be back if there were a 2020 campaign", added the statement.

Becker has been conducting unaffiliated Sanders campaign work in recent months, which included calling potential staffers and traveling to early primary states to prepare for a possible presidential run.

So she told senior Sanders advisers, including 2016 campaign manager Jeff Weaver, what happened. The Sanders camp, though, has said he's not on the payroll. Additionally, numerous women have complained they were paid less than men and forced into inappropriate and uncomfortable situations, according to The New York Times.

Becker traveled to SC - the first-in-the-South primary state - in December for meetings with former Sanders campaign staffers, CNBC previously reported.

The campaign of the 2016 presidential election in the United States was marred by episodes of sexual misconduct, especially by the then Republican candidate Donald Trump who eventually won the poll to become the president.

Sanders said that his 2018 Senate re-election campaign had more robust protections for women.

  • Rogelio Becker