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Bernie Sanders' camp says it is working to address concerns after staffers allege 'sexual violence' on 2016 campaign

"We share in the urgency for all of us to do better," the Vermont senator's campaign team said in a statement.
Image: Bernie Sanders
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a Get Out The Vote rally for Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed at Cobo Center in Detroit on Aug. 5, 2018.Jacob Hamilton / Ann Arbor News via AP file

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders' team said on Monday that it will continue to improve its policies after staffers alleged a "dangerous dynamic" of "sexual violence and harassment" on his 2016 presidential campaign.

"We share in the urgency for all of us to do better," Sanders' Senate campaign committee, Friends of Bernie Sanders, said in a statement provided to NBC News.

More than two dozen men and women who worked on Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign signed a letter published by Politico that alleged an "untenable and dangerous dynamic" of sexual harassment and sexual violence during the campaign. The letter did not cite specific instances.

The signatories requested a meeting with the Vermont senator, his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, and other top staffers "for the purpose of planning to mitigate the issue in the upcoming presidential cycle." Organizers of the effort told Politico they did not intend for the letter to become public.

Sexism in political campaigns is nothing new, but the letter highlights the challenges Democrats will face in the #MeToo era as the race for 2020 kicks into high gear. Sanders, 77, is said to be considering another White House bid. During the last presidential primary, Sanders, an independent who ran as a Democrat, was criticized for his treatment of rival Hillary Clinton, while his more vocal supporters came to be characterized as "Bernie Bros."

Sanders' campaign committee said in their statement that they wanted to allow the signatories to come forward in private and would "honor this principle with respect to this private letter."

"Speaking generally, during 2016 there were a number of HR actions taken, and while it is not appropriate to discuss them individually, they ranged from employee counseling to immediate termination from the campaign," the statement said.

The committee also noted the "more robust policies and processes" implemented during Sanders' successful Senate reelection bid this year, including training and a toll free hotline for reporting incidents.

"Harassment of any kind is intolerable. Hearing the experiences and thoughts of individuals who worked on Bernie’s 2016 campaign is a vital part of our commitment to work within our progressive community to improve the lives of all people," the statement continued. "And that's why we will continue to examine these policies and processes, with feedback welcome, and will make any necessary changes, as we continue our work to build a world based on social, racial and economic justice."