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Sanders supporters plan 400 events as charges swirl around ‘16 campaign

Bernie Sanders at a George Washington University event in Washington Bernie Sanders at a George Washington University event in Washington
Deanna Wagner | 11 January, 2019, 08:31

As Sanders and surrogates explore a 2020 presidential bid, more than a dozen former female and male staffers who worked on the 2016 campaign signed a letter requesting a meeting with Sanders and his leadership team "to discuss the issue of sexual violence and harassment on the 2016 campaign, for the goal of planning to mitigate the issue in the upcoming presidential cycle". And I thank them from the bottom of my heart for speaking out.

The Vermont independent said on Capitol Hill that the alleged misconduct by male aides "was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign or any campaign should be about".

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you we did everything right in terms of human resources", said Sanders. "Our standards and safeguards were inadequate".

50-year-old former convention floor leader Robert Becker has been accused of telling a 20-year-old subordinate he wanted to have sex with her and forcibly kissing her during the final night of the Democratic National Convention.

Mr Becker denies any harassment, and no criminal charges have been filed.

The woman did not report the incident at the time, but was prompted to when Becker took on another prominent role in Sanders' 2020 efforts, shoring up potential staffers - including his alleged victim - and making trips to the early voting states.

The woman warned about sexual misconduct on campaigns in a statement to Politico, saying no one should be allowed to run for president until they can guarantee a safe work place.

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The accuser said she did not alert higher-ups on the campaign team about the incident due to the campaign being over.

"I was a little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case", he said.

Sanders has been on defense since the New York Times reported that several women on his 2016 campaign reported episodes of sexual harassment, demeaning treatment, and pay disparity.

Friends of Bernie Sanders, Sanders" main campaign committee, told Politico in a statement: "Robert Becker would not be a part of any future campaigns.' The campaign added: 'To be clear: no one who committed sexual harassment in 2016 would be back if there were a 2020 campaign, ' and described Becker's conduct as 'deplorable and fundamentally unacceptable'.

Brett Carlsen via Getty Images Onetime presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally in Binghamton, New York, on April 11, 2016.

The allegations have cast a shadow on Sanders' potential 2020 run in a likely crowded field of Democratic contenders.

She said she felt compelled to speak out after Mr Becker travelled to SC in December on a trip to recruit future campaign workers for Mr Sanders.