Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday acknowledged and apologized for any sexual harassment or mistreatment of women who worked on his 2016 presidential campaign.
Allegations that male members of his campaign had harassed and discriminated against female campaign workers have been circulating for weeks as the senator weighs a potential second presidential run.
“I thank them, from the bottom of my heart, for speaking out,” Sanders wrote in a statement. “What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign, or any campaign, should be about.”
He continued, “The allegations speak to unacceptable behavior that must not be tolerated in any campaign or workplace. To the women in that campaign who were harassed or mistreated I apologize.”
More than two dozen women have come forward with allegations against campaign staffers. Politico reported Wednesday that a top adviser on the campaign had forcibly kissed a female subordinate after the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
The adviser, Robert Becker, has denied any wrongdoing. Friends of Bernie Sanders, the senator’s main campaign committee, said Becker would not be a part of any future campaigns in response to the allegation against him.
Sanders has not personally been the focus of any of the accusations. He has said he had been unaware of the alleged harassment and mistreatment of his aides during the campaign.
“I was little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case,” Sanders told CNN on Jan. 2.
In his statement Thursday, Sanders admitted his 2016 campaign’s “standards and safeguards were inadequate.” He outlined what steps his 2018 Senate re-election campaign had taken to prevent sexual harassment, including training on the issue for all employees.
The allegations have cast a shadow of Sanders’ potential 2020 run in a likely crowded field of Democratic contenders.