Bernie Sanders Tries to Apologize for Harassment and Assault on His Campaign, Again

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Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has once again attempted to apologize for what appears to be systemic issues with sexism on his 2016 campaign. And once again, he’s come up short.

Following a new report of sexual harassment and assault within his campaign staff during his 2016 presidential run, Sanders has again apologized for his ignorance of these events, sharing a statement on Twitter apologizing to the women who have reported the harassment.

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This apology follows comments he made on CNN last week, telling Anderson Cooper that he apologized to “any woman who felt she was not treated appropriately” amid reports of a harassment-filled environment and low pay, but that he was also “a little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case.”

Sanders’ second apology this month follows calls from his 2016 campaign staff for a meeting on sexual harassment on the campaign trail; a report from the New York Times that women who worked for his 2016 campaign did so in a harassment-filled, low-pay environment; and a more recent report from Politico alleging that Robert Becker, a top Sanders 2016 adviser, used sexual language with a staffer in her 20s at a party, and later grabbed her wrists, kissed her, and stuck his tongue in her mouth. Becker has denied the allegations.

The statement, tweeted in a screenshot, opens with a reminder of the success of his 2016 campaign, saying it “defended the needs of the working families of this country and helped transform the national political debate.” Sanders’ statement then moves toward the allegations of sexism, harassment, and assault, thanking the women who have come forward, and stating that the conditions they experiences were “absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign, or any campaign, should be about.”

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“The allegations speak to unacceptable behavior that must not be tolerated in any campaign or any workplace. To the women in the campaign who were harassed or mistreated I apologize. Our standards and safeguards were inadequate,” his statement reads.

The statement then mentions the establishment of “some of the strongest sexual harassment policies in the country” in his 2018 reelection campaign for Senate, such as anti-harassment training and access to an independent human resources firm. “Clearly we need a cultural revolution in this country to change workplace attitudes and behavior,” the statement concluded. “I intend in every way to be actively involved in that process.”

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A nationwide “cultural revolution” is absolutely long overdue. But gesturing toward the successes of your presidential campaign in the same statement where you apologize for sexual harassment and assault on your campaign doesn’t better contextualize or justify what appears to be a long-ignored systemic issue within his first run for president—nor explains how he’ll repair these issues should he run again in 2020.

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About the author

Samantha Grasso

Splinter Staff Writer, Texan