January 2, 2018
More than two dozen women and men who worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign are seeking an in-person meeting with the senator and his top political advisers to “discuss the issue of sexual violence and harassment on the 2016 campaign, for the purpose of planning to mitigate the issue in the upcoming presidential cycle,” according to a copy of letter obtained by Politico.
“In recent weeks there has been an ongoing conversation on social media, in texts, and in person, about the untenable and dangerous dynamic that developed during our campaign,” they wrote.
Organizers of the effort said they did not intend for the letter to become public, but they confirmed that they sent it to senior Sanders officials on December 30. The signatories (whose names were deleted from the copy of the letter that went public) range from field organizers to some of the top officials on the 2016 campaign, according to multiple people involved in the effort, Politico reported. Some of the former aides do not expect to join any 2020 campaign while others are open to joining a potential Sanders 2020 bid.
In the letter, the Bernie “alumni” were particular intent on talking to both Sanders and Jeff Weaver—the campaign manager for the Senator’s 2016 presidential push , on a short-term basis, the president of Our Revolution, a nonprofit established by Sanders.
People involved in the effort said they signed the letter before Sanders (I-Vermont) officially launched a 2020 presidential bid in the hopes that it would lead to real action if and when the senator begins assembling his team. Organizers wrote they wanted the meeting to produce a plan for “implementing concrete sexual harassment policies and procedures; and a commitment to hiring diverse leadership to preempt the possibility of replicating the predatory culture from the first presidential campaign.”
“This letter is just a start,” said one of the organizers who declined to be named. “We are addressing what happened on the Bernie campaign but as people [who] work in this space we see that all campaigns are extremely dangerous to women and marginalized people and we are attempting to fix that.”
Friends of Bernie Sanders, the senator’s principal campaign committee, responded to the letter in a statement to Politico: “We thank the signers of the letter for their willingness to engage in this incredibly important discussion,” the statement reads. “We always welcome hearing the experiences and views of our former staff. We also value their right to come to us in a private way so their confidences and privacy are respected. And we will honor this principle with respect to this private letter.”
The committee said that it had established “a third-party hotline’ in order to handle reports of sexual harassment and administer mandated training.
The letter continued, “Harassment of any kind is intolerable. Having the experiences and thoughts of individuals who worked on Bernie’s 2016 campaign is a vital part of our commitment to work within our progressive community to improve the lives of all people. And that’s why we will continue to examine these policies and processes, with feedback welcome.”
Research contact: @AlxThomp