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Bernie Sanders thanks women for speaking out about sexual misconduct claims

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Sen. Bernie Sanders issued a formal apology to the dozens of women who worked for his 2016 presidential campaign who’ve alleged they were sexually harassed or assaulted by fellow campaign aides.

“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 Thursday afternoon. “We can’t just talk about ending sexism and discrimination. It must be a reality in our daily lives. That was clearly not the case in 2016.”

This comes after Politico reported on Thursday that a young woman has accused a former top aide on Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign of forcibly kissing her. Several other former campaign staffers have also accused the aide, Robert Becker, of inappropriate conduct.

The woman said Becker, now 50, approached her at a bar on the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, grabbed her wrists and kissed her, forcing his tongue in her mouth. Three other people who witnessed the incident or were told about it shortly after confirmed the account to Politico.

Read more: A top Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign aide has been accused of forcibly kissing a young female staffer

Sanders, a potential 2020 contender, conceded in his Thursday statement that the “standards and safeguards” on the campaign were “inadequate.”

But he said that his 2018 Senate re-election campaign had “established some of the strongest sexual harassment policies in the country,” giving employees access to contact an independent human resources firm to voice their concerns.

“Clearly we need a cultural revolution in this country to change workplace attitudes and behavior,” Sanders wrote on Thursday. “I intend in every way to be actively involved in that process.”

In recent weeks, many former 2016 campaign staffers have made allegations of sexual misconduct and pay disparity on the campaign.

Dozens of women and men who worked on the 2016 campaign signed a letter asking to meet with Sanders and his top aides “to discuss the issue of sexual violence and harassment on the 2016 campaign, for the purpose of planning to mitigate the issue in the upcoming presidential cycle.”

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