Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Wednesday that he was not aware of the sexual harassment and pay disparity allegations during his 2016 presidential campaign, and apologized to “any woman who feels like she was not treated appropriately.”
The New York Times reported Wednesday that several women who worked on Sanders’ campaign had come forward alleging that they had experienced sexual harassment, pay disparities and targeted disrespect by campaign members that was not adequately addressed.
When asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “Anderson Cooper 360” if he had been unaware of the allegations, Sanders replied, “Yes, I was little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case.”
“I am not going to sit here and tell you that we did everything right in terms of human resources, in terms of addressing the needs that I’m hearing from now, that women felt they were disrespected, that there was sexual harassment which was not dealt with as effectively as possible,” Sanders initially said to Cooper.
The former Democratic candidate stressed that his 2018 Senate re-election campaign had established new protocols for handling sexual harassment allegations.
“We put forward the strongest set of principles in terms of mandatory training, in terms of women, if they felt harassed, having an independent firm that they can go to,” Sanders said. “And I think that that’s kind of the gold standard of what we should be doing.”
“Of course, if I run, we will do better next time,” he added of a potential 2020 campaign.
The senator’s campaign committee, Friends of Bernie Sanders, acknowledged in a statement to CNN that there were HR actions taken during the 2016 campaign, but did not comment on specific allegations or actions taken.
“We will continue to examine these policies and processes,” the group wrote in the statment. “And make any necessary changes, as we continue our work to build a world based on social, racial and economic justice.”
CNN’s Gregory Krieg contributed to this report.