Bernie Sanders Group Uses NDA to Quash Claim of Racial Discrimination

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pauses while speaking at a campaign event, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. (AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter)
AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter

Our Revolution, a group tied to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), reportedly entered a nondisclosure agreement with a black political consultant who claimed in a lawsuit that the group fired her due to issues rooted in race.

The group, founded by the socialist senator, entered an NDA with Tezlyn Figaro, who claimed in a lawsuit that she was fired from the group for “complaining about the organization’s treatment towards her and African-Americans.”  The lawsuit reportedly criticized Sanders’ campaign as well, “arguing an all-white leadership staff ‘was accused of racism’ by black staffers and failed to engage black voters,” according to The Associated Press.

Figaro, who served as the director of racial justice during Sanders’ 2016 bid and ultimately joined Our Revolution, has a controversial history with the campaign, particularly over remarks made about immigration.

The AP reported:

She was brought on by former Our Revolution President Nina Turner, a top Sanders surrogate who is now national co-chair of his 2020 campaign. When Turner tried to make Figaro Our Revolution’s chief of staff, board members objected.

Past comments Figaro made about immigration on Twitter and as a pundit on Fox News quickly surfaced and drew rebuke, with critics and some Our Revolution staffers saying that they were anti-immigrant.

“If AMERICAN black folks can go to jail when they break the law then certainly so can an illegal immigrant,” she said in one tweet.

“U r being distracted abt ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS meanwhile more blacks are under prison/parole control in in 2010 than were enslaved in 1850,” she wrote in another.

Figaro, who had long worked as a consultant to Turner, publicly apologized but was fired. Our Revolution was aware of her past comments when she was hired, according to her lawsuit. Turner didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Nonetheless, the two parties settled the lawsuit in July 2019 for “an undisclosed amount of money.”

Sanders’ campaign has attempted to distance itself from the group’s decision.

“We oppose using NDAs to silence the victims of toxic workplace issues,” Sanders campaign spokeswoman Sarah Ford said in a statement.

This is not the first time Sanders has faced accusations of mistreatment among staff members involved in his campaign or affiliated groups. He apologized last year after women stepped forward, accusing male aides within his campaign of mistreating them:

“To women in our campaign who were harassed or mistreated, I apologize,” Sanders said at the time, calling the alleged mistreatment “absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign or any campaign should be about.”

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