Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is mulling a presidential bid in 2020, apologized to the women who say they were harassed while working on his 2016 campaign. "To the women on my 2016 campaign who were harassed or mistreated, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for speaking out. I apologize," Sanders tweeted on Thursday.
Politico reported at the end of 2018 that Sanders aides had called a meeting with the senator to discuss allegations of sexual harassment during the campaign in an attempt to mitigate the damage to a potential future candidacy. The New York Times reported last week that a Latino outreach strategist for the campaign complained to a supervisor that she had been harassed by a campaign surrogate.
Politico reported Thursday morning that Sanders's former Iowa campaign manager was part of a $30,000 federal discrimination settlement with two former employees. Sanders denied knowing about the settlement to reporters.
"I am very proud of the 2016 presidential campaign we ran, and of the staff and volunteers who made our successes possible," Sanders said in the statement posted to Twitter. However, to the women who were allegedly harassed, he said that "what they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign, or any campaign, should be about." He mentioned that he had worked on strengthening federal sexual harassment policy in 2018.
"Clearly we need a cultural revolution in this country to change workplace attitudes and behavior. I intend in every way to be actively involved in that process," Sanders wrote.
Sanders is one of several Democrats who have announced or are likely to announce a presidential bid. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who often draws comparisons to Sanders for her populist economic policies, announced that she was creating exploratory committee for president at the end of 2018.