Top 2016 Sanders Adviser Accused of Forcibly Kissing Female Staffer

Tasos Katopodis  Getty Images North America

Tasos Katopodis Getty Images North America

Chuck Todd asked viewers if Senator Bernie Sanders had damaged a possible second presidential campaign over his response to accusations of sexual harassment on his previous 2016 bid.

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He continued, "The allegations speak to unacceptable behavior that must not be tolerated in any campaign or workplace".

"To the women in our campaign who were harassed on the street I apologize - our standards, our procedures, our safeguards were clearly inadequate", the potential 2020 contender told reporters Thursday at a press conference on prescription drug prices.

The victim did not formally report the incident at the time, but said she's now coming forward to ensure this doesn't happen again in 2020. One woman told the Times she made $2,400 a month, but a younger man who was supposed to work under her made more than double that amount.

Once a Sanders supporter, the accuser now says the senator is unfit for the Oval Office.

The staffer, Robert Becker, who helped lead Sanders's campaign in Michigan, New York, California and Iowa as a deputy national field director, has been accused of grabbing a female campaign staffer by her wrists and grabbing her head while kissing and putting his tongue in her mouth, Politico reported Wednesday.

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Becker has since denied the allegations. Female staffers also claimed they were paid significantly less than their male counterparts or subordinates.

CNN reported on Wednesday that Jeff Weaver, the longtime Sanders confidant and 2016 campaign manager, will not return to the role he held in 2016 should Sanders made a decision to run again, and Friends of Bernie Sanders confirmed this to VTDigger.

"Speaking generally about 2016, was it too male? Yes". Other organizations, like the Illinois Anti-Harassment, Equality and Access Panel and the Campaign Workers Guild labor union, have centered their work around sexual misconduct in campaigns. Definitely, and we share deeply in the urgency to make the necessary changes.

Former campaign staffers wrote a letter to the senator in December to request a meeting with him and his advisers about "the issue of sexual violence and harassment on the 2016 campaign" in order to "mitigate the issue in the upcoming presidential cycle". "That there was a failure pains me very much", Weaver added. Bernie Sanders at the Henderson Pavilion in this February 20, 2016 file in Henderson, Nev.

In another blow to the progressive lawmaker, Sanders will not have his trusted campaign manager by his side if he decides to run for president again.

According to POLITICO, Mr. Becker "oversaw Sanders' Iowa campaign, then helped lead his efforts in Michigan, California and NY as deputy national field director" and has reportedly started calling former staffers to prep for Sanders' potential 2020 run over the past few months. "That is the truth", Sanders wrote in the fundraising pitch.

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