Campaign workers on the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Democratic 2016 presidential campaigns alleged in a report published Friday that they were harassed while campaigning for their respective candidates and that the campaigns failed to address the claims properly — the latest sexual misconduct revelations to rock the Democratic Party.
Lilian Adams, a Clinton campaign worker, and Zoey Jordan Salsbury, who worked for the Sanders primary campaign, both told HuffPost that they were sexually harassed by fellow campaign workers and that the campaigns were “ill-equipped” to cope.
Adams, who relocated to Colorado to work for the campaign as a paid organizer, said she was subject to homophobic remarks (Adams is bisexual) which went on to comments about her body and attempts to force her into one-on-one situations and get her to drink alcohol. Adams, then 19, said her harasser also encouraged her not to wear bras.
While her abuser was eventually fired months after Adams first complained to superiors in June, he was reportedly later rehired in October to work on the campaign for a different state party, leaving her disillusioned. Clinton made the fair-and-equal treatment of women a central part of her campaign as the first woman to win the presidential nomination for a major political party.
“You have a lot of young passionate people who want to help change the world through Democratic politics,” Adams said. “Older Democratic operatives see this passion and exploit it, putting us in an extremely stressful and unhealthy work environment.”
However, she said she did not blame Clinton herself:
“When I criticize the Hillary campaign, I am not criticizing her,” she told HuffPost. “She was actually a source of inspiration during the hard days.”
Salsbury, who worked as a volunteer as president of American University Students for Bernie, told HuffPost a campaign intern made unwanted advances, but the campaign had no structure to deal with issues among volunteers. In her account, she blasted “a culture that didn’t discuss office policies with volunteers or make it clear that harassment wasn’t tolerated.” She was 18 at the time of the alleged harassment.
She said she was contacted by a Sanders campaign lawyer this week, but the conversation made her uncomfortable, treating her as if she was a “roadblock” to a possible 2020 run for the Vermont socialist.
“It firmly felt like the kind of call you make when you’re trying to feel out if someone has the interest and/or standing to bring a lawsuit,” she said.
Clinton aides did not respond to HuffPost, while Sanders told the outlet he does “not tolerate sexual harassment” in his Senate office or on his campaigns. However, his office admitted that volunteers were not given information on detailing harassment reporting process and that that will change in the future.
The allegations are the latest sexual misconduct claims to rock the Democratic Party and come a day after a picture emerged of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) groping a journalist on a two-week USO tour in 2006. The journalist, Leeann Tweeden, also claimed that before that picture Franken had kissed her during a skit rehearsal without her consent.
Franken apologized for his actions, although he said he remembers the rehearsal differently to Tweeden. Franken called for the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate his actions after coming under heavy fire from both Republicans and Democrats.
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.