Bernie San­ders apol­o­gizes af­ter re­ports of staffers’ sex­ual ha­rass­ment

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By MARCY OSTER

Sen. Bernie San­ders apol­o­gized Thurs­day to fe­male staffers on his 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign who said they were ha­rassed by male co-work­ers.

The apol­ogy fol­lowed a Politico re­port say­ing that San­ders’s for­mer Iowa cam­paign man­ager and ad­viser Robert Becker forcibly kissed a young cam­paign worker. Becker has been ac­cused of sim­i­lar ha­rass­ment by other fe­male cam­paign work­ers.

Becker, 50, also was named in a $30,000 fed­eral dis­crim­i­na­tion set­tle­ment with two for­mer em­ploy­ees, Politico re­ported. The po­lit­i­cal web­site said it viewed the set­tle­ments but that the two em­ploy­ees are re­stricted from talk­ing about the case.

San­ders, a Ver­mont In­de­pen­dent who cau­cuses with Democrats, told re­porters that he thanked the women “from the bot­tom of my heart for speak­ing out” and apol­o­gized to them, The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported.

“When we talk about end­ing sex­ism, and end­ing all forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion, those be­liefs can­not just be words,” San­ders said. “They must be based in day-to-day re­al­ity and the work that we do. And that was clearly not the case in the 2016 cam­paign. The al­le­ga­tions that I have heard speak to un­ac­cept­able be­hav­ior that must not be tol­er­ated in any cam­paign or in any work­place.”

San­ders said he was not aware of the $30,000 set­tle­ment.

Becker, af­ter over­see­ing the Iowa cam­paign, then helped lead the Jewish se­na­tor’s ef­forts in Michi­gan, Cal­i­for­nia and New York as deputy na­tional field di­rec­tor. He re­port­edly made an unau­tho­rized trip to South Carolina re­cently to re­cruit staffers for a pos­si­ble 2020 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign by San­ders and had con­tacted women he had al­legedly ha­rassed.

San­ders, 77, has yet to an­nounce whether he will run, but Friends of Bernie San­ders, his prin­ci­pal cam­paign com­mit­tee, said in a state­ment that Becker would not be part of any fu­ture cam­paigns.

In an in­ter­view last week with CNN – af­ter fe­male staffers re­quested a meet­ing to dis­cuss the ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions as well as pay dis­par­i­ties – San­ders apol­o­gized “to any woman who felt that she was not treated ap­pro­pri­ately. And of course, if I run, we will do bet­ter next time.”

He said he was not aware of the al­le­ga­tions be­cause “I was lit­tle bit busy running around the coun­try try­ing to make the case.”

San­ders was the first Jewish can­di­date to win ma­jor-party nom­i­nat­ing con­tests. He ul­ti­mately failed in his 2016 bid, los­ing the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion to Hil­lary Clin­ton, who lost to Don­ald Trump in the gen­eral elec­tion.

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