A report published Friday contains allegations of sexual misconduct against the presidential campaigns of both 2016 Democratic candidates: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. It is the second major accusation against Democrats in two days.
According to the report, campaign workers Lilian Adams (for Clinton) and Zoey Jordan Salsbury (for Sanders) say they were harassed while working on campaigns for their respective candidates.
They further accuse the campaigns of failing to properly address their claims. Neither woman named her attacker, citing safety concerns.
The women told their stories to HuffPost, which reports:
In Clinton’s Campaign
In May 2016, [Adams] relocated to Colorado to work with the state Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign as a paid organizer. It was in the Colorado office that Adams said she faced harassment from a fellow organizer.
Adams 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.
In Sanders’ Campaign
In October 2015, Salsbury became president of American University Students for Bernie, a volunteer position. Her main point of contact in the Vermont senator’s campaign was an intern, another college student in Washington, D.C. When he made unwanted advances toward her, Salsbury said she didn’t know where to turn because the campaign had no internal infrastructure to deal with such issues ― at least involving volunteers.
Salsbury felt helpless to stop the harassment. There was no culture of accountability in the D.C. office of the Sanders campaign, she said, and she didn’t think people would listen to a young volunteer. It was “a culture that didn’t discuss office policies with volunteers or make it clear that harassment wasn’t tolerated,” said Salsbury.
Salsbury said she heard from the Sanders campaign after she revealed the incident on social media. On Monday, a Seattle-based lawyer called her on behalf of the campaign. “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,” said Salsbury. “It felt like I was being blamed.”
She said the call may have been an effort to get ahead of any controversies that might come up if Sanders runs for president again in 2020.
In a statement to HuffPost, Sen. Sanders was adamant that he does “not tolerate sexual harassment” in his Senate office or on his campaigns. “It is critical we listen to those sharing their stories, recognize no workplace is immune from these problems, and address them in a serious manner,” he added.
Sanders said employees and interns would have been provided with a handbook that told them how to report harassment, but volunteers weren’t, and they plan to rectify that moving forward.
The allegations come the day after the Democratic Party was rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who was accused of forcibly kissing and groping model and journalist Leeann Tweeden.
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