Bernie Sanders staffers allege ‘sexual violence’ during 2016 campaign

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Veterans of Bernie Sanders insurgent 2016 campaign for the presidency want the Vermont senator to meet with them to discuss “sexual violence and harassment” on the campaign as he contemplates whether to run in 2020.

“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,” said the letter sent Sunday, as first revealed by Politico.

A reply from Friends of Bernie Sanders, the senator’s campaign organization, welcomed the letter but did not say whether it would accede to the meeting. It noted that personnel actions, including firings, were taken during the 2016 campaign in response to complaints, and that Sanders’ 2018 Senate campaign set up a hotline run by a third party to handle complaints.

Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, was the first Jewish candidate to win major-party nominating contests. He ultimately failed in his 2016 bid, losing the Democratic presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton, who was defeated by Donald Trump in the general election.

Sanders has yet to announce whether he will run in 2020, when he will be 79. On Monday, Elizabeth Warren, a senator from Massachusetts who shares Sanders’ progressive outlook, announced the establishment of an exploratory committee to seek the 2020 Democratic nomination.

Other Democrats who have set up exploratory committees include Maryland congressman John Delaney and Julián Castro, a former housing secretary.