Staffers for each of the Democratic Party finalists have come forward to tell tales of rampant sexual harassment on the campaign trail that was wholly ignored by the powers that be. Almost as surprising is that the media vehicle publishing their story was the very left-wing Huffington Post.
Lilian Adams, who worked for Team Hillary, and Zoey Jordan Salsbury, who joined team Bernie, separately told the HuffPo that they were preyed upon by fellow campaign workers and that the campaigns were “ill-equipped” to cope.
In May 2016, Adams relocated to Colorado to work for Clinton as a paid organizer. It was in the Colorado office that she says she faced harassment from a fellow organizer.
Adams said she dealt with this harassment for months and mentioned it to a superior as early as June. Adams said. Adams felt targeted, she said, because the man knew she was bisexual — and escalated from there. “He made multiple comments about my body, told people we were dating, would constantly try to get me to drink (I was 19), try to force me into situations where we were alone, encouraged me not to wear bras, etc.,” Adams said.
She talked to her bosses in June, but the campaign did nothing, and the abuse continued. Adams tried talking to her supervisors about the harassment again in August. They finally listened:
The campaign fired her harasser shortly thereafter. In text messages between Adams and one of her superiors, which were reviewed by HuffPost, they both expressed relief that the problem was over.
But even after her abuser was fired, his work with the party — and the campaign — wasn’t over. In October 2016, Adams said she discovered to her astonishment that he had been rehired the previous month to work on the campaign with a different state party
The HuffPo spoke to someone Adams confided in at the time, and her confidant confirmed her story. The blog also reached out to the harasser, but he didn’t reply. The Hillary campaign was contacted by the site but wouldn’t comment.
Then to Adams’s disillusionment, fact the campaign rehired her tormenter, this time placing him elsewhere (where he could bother other women).
“You have a lot of young passionate people who want to help change the world through Democratic politics,” she said. “Older Democratic operatives see this passion and exploit it, putting us in an extremely stressful and unhealthy work environment.”
Salsbury caught the Bern in October 2015 and became president of American University Students for Bernie.
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.
The person Salsbury identified as her harasser did not respond to a request for comment. But her account was confirmed by her friend Colin Moir, a fellow member of the American University group. “He had been harassing her sexually,” said Moir, adding that Salsbury “was not able to speak to somebody higher up and report it.”
Salsbury felt hopeless. Unlike Adams, she didn’t contact her superiors because there was no culture of accountability in the D.C. office of the Sanders campaign. She felt that as a young volunteer, she would be ignored by those she told her story to.
It was “a culture that didn’t discuss office policies with volunteers or make it clear that harassment wasn’t tolerated,” said Salsbury.
Apparently, Salsbury’s account isn’t the first claim of sexual harassment in the Sanders campaign.
Earlier this year, as he was running unsuccessfully for Congress in California’s 34th District, Arturo Carmona battled accusations of sexism and mistreatment of staff from when he was deputy political director in the Sanders campaign. Among the allegations was a charge by the campaign’s former national Latino outreach strategist, Masha Mendieta, that Carmona had “covered up” an accusation of sexual harassment made against a member of his staff in Nevada. Carmona didn’t take the allegations seriously, Mendieta wrote in a Medium post.
Cross posted at The Lid