Bernie Sanders-linked group entered into racial discrimination NDA

The deal is tied to a 2019 lawsuit in which a former employee said she was fired from the political group Our Revolution due to her race.
Image: Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders.Matt Rourke / AP

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Vaughn Hillyard, Gary Grumbach and Shaquille Brewster

CHARLESTON, S.C. — A former ally of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders signed a nondisclosure agreement with the political organization that the presidential candidate founded ahead of his 2020 White House bid, NBC News confirmed on Friday.

Tezlyn Figaro, a political consultant who worked as Sanders’ 2016 campaign racial justice director, settled a lawsuit in July 2019 with Our Revolution, the Sanders-founded political organization, in July 2019 after alleging that the organization engaged in racial discrimination. Following the 2016 campaign, she worked as the group's strategic outreach director.

Figaro confirmed to NBC News that she remains in the agreement — as first reported by the Associated Press. The terms of the deal, including any transfer of money, are not known by NBC News.

“I have to keep saying that I am not permitted to discuss the details,” Figaro said in response to the settlement.

The lawsuit filed by Figaro alleged “hostile and racial discriminatory treatment toward African American communities,” including directly toward her. She alleged that the board of Our Revolution denied her the position as the organization’s chief of staff in “retaliation” for her vocalness about discrimination in the organization, adding that she was then subsequently unfairly terminated.

Figaro did not disclose the terms of her agreement, including if any cash was exchanged, with Our Revolution.

Sanders is the second Democratic presidential candidate to come under scrutiny over nondisclosure agreements.

During the Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden focused on Mike Bloomberg’s nondisclosure agreements with women who alleged sexual harassment against the former New York City mayor, calling on Bloomberg to release the women from those NDAs. Bloomberg had confirmed that some people at his organization signed NDAs after alleging comments of his made them uncomfortable. He has since said some of those people could leave the agreements.

Sanders, however, did not directly wade into the discussion over NDAs and has yet to call on Bloomberg to release the individuals from those agreements.

After Warren and Biden pushed for Bloomberg to end the agreements, Sanders shifted the conversation to “electability,” listing stop and frisk and “the workplace that Mayor Bloomberg has established and the problems there,” among a series of issues that would make it hard to beat President Donald Trump.

This is not the first time that the Sanders’ orbit has faced blowback for alleged harassment.

In December 2018, the Sanders campaign released a statement acknowledging that it would examine “policies and processes” after more than two dozen former 2016 Sanders presidential campaign staffers wrote a letter to Sanders and his top campaign brass over a "dangerous dynamic" of "sexual violence and harassment" on his 2016 campaign.

Figaro joined the Sanders campaign after having worked with Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner in a communications role. Turner would go on to become a surrogate for Sanders’ 2016 campaign and then president of Our Revolution. She now co-chairs Sanders’ 2020 bid.

Sanders founded Our Revolution in 2016 after exiting the presidential contest.

Ben Kamisar contributed.