A former female campaign staffer for Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential run claims a top Sanders advisor sexually assaulted her on the night of the Democratic National Convention.
As detailed in a report from POLITICO published on Wednesday, top Sanders advisor Robert Becker is accused of forcibly kissing the female staffer, who is reportedly in her 20s and has remained anonymous out of fear of retribution from Sanders supporters.
Becker allegedly approached the woman at a restaurant and hookah bar following the convention and told her "he had always wanted to have sex with her and made a reference to riding his 'pole,' according to the woman and three other people who witnessed what happened or were told about it shortly afterward by people who did," says the report. "Later in the night, Becker approached the woman and grabbed her wrists. Then he moved his hands to her head and forcibly kissed her, putting his tongue in her mouth as he held her, the woman and other sources said."
Becker, 50, has denied the allegations.
According to POLITICO, Mr. Becker "oversaw Sanders' Iowa campaign, then helped lead his efforts in Michigan, California and New York as deputy national field director" and has reportedly started calling former staffers to prep for Sanders' potential 2020 run over the past few months. Per the outlet, top Sanders "aides did not endorse, but did not disavow, either."
The accuser said she did not alert higher-ups on the campaign team about the incident due to the campaign being over. But when Becker recently reached out to her over a potential 2020 Sanders run, she changed her mind and decided to tell top Sanders aides.
Once a Sanders supporter, the accuser now says the senator is unfit for the Oval Office.
"Candidates who allow people like Robert Becker to lead their organizations shouldn't earn the highest office in our government," she said, adding, "It just really sucks because no one ever held him accountable and he kept pushing and pushing and seeing how much he could get away with. This can’t happen in 2020. You can’t run for president of the United States unless you acknowledge that every campaign demands a safe work environment for every employee and volunteer."
"I categorically deny these allegations of improper and unprofessional conduct," said Becker in a statement. He denied forcibly kissing the woman, calling it "at odds with my recollection of a late evening filled with many hugs and kisses and tears and conversations about what’s next."
Sanders' principal campaign committee, Friends of Bernie Sanders, called Becker's alleged conduct "deplorable and fundamentally unacceptable" and announced that Becker "would not be a part of any future campaigns."
"To be clear: no one who committed sexual harassment in 2016 would be back if there were a 2020 campaign," added the statement.
Sanders has been plagued with rumors over his mistreatment of females staffers during his 2016 campaign, as highlighted in a New York Times piece published Wednesday.