With the primaries already looming in 2019, more than two dozen staffers who worked on Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign in 2016 have come forward to request a meeting with him before things get underway, highlighting issues of sexual harassment and a toxic culture that brewed 36 months ago.
As reported by the New York Post, the meeting calls for a face-to-face with Sanders and some of his top aides to discuss the issue, in the hopes of fostering a better relationship for the primaries in 2019 and possible presidential elections in 2020. Those staff members sent a letter to Sanders, which was published on Saturday, requesting his presence, citing an “untenable and dangerous dynamic” that they hope to “pre-empt” in the “upcoming presidential cycle.”
Despite saying they wanted to discuss the issue of sexual violence and harassment, they did not mention any specific incidents that may have occurred in 2016 during their campaign with the senator. Instead, they talk about a conversation that has been running wild in the past few weeks on social media, in text, and in person about the dynamic at the time.
The purpose of the meeting is to come up with a plan to prevent that same culture from fostering at the next election cycle.
“In recent weeks there has been an ongoing conversation on social media, in texts, and in person, about the untenable and dangerous dynamic that developed during our campaign,” their letter says. “We the undersigned request a meeting with Senator Sanders and his leadership team … for the purpose of planning to mitigate the issue in the upcoming presidential cycle — both in the primary and potential general election campaigns for 2019 and 2020.”
They hope that sexual harassment policies and procedures will be put in place to deal with any incidents in 2019.
“It is critically important that Senator Sanders attend this meeting to understand the full scope of the issue from 2016 and how the campaign plans to move forward,” their letter continues.
Some of those who signed the letter stated that they hope their meeting will serve as a “leading example” of what campaigns should be doing following the start of the #MeToo movement in late 2017. One organizer explained that the incidents of sexual harassment are not exclusive to the Sanders campaign, but run rampant in all of them, which creates a dangerous situation for women to be in.
They furthered explained that their complaints aren’t only leveled at Sanders. The senator’s campaign committee has welcomed their call to action ahead of the primaries.
“We thank the signers of the letter for their willingness to engage in this incredibly important discussion,” they said in response. “We always welcome hearing the experiences and views of our former staff. We also value their right to come to us in a private way so their confidences and privacy are respected. And we will honor this principle with respect to this private letter.”