Political campaigns, which are often dominated by men and take place over a frenzied and short-lived time period, have long been an environment where sexual harassment proliferates. But as HuffPost’s Molly Redden reports, in the first post-MeToo presidential election, some Democratic 2020 campaigns are finally vetting top hires for sexual harassment and misconduct.
One senior staff member to a potential 2020 campaign told HuffPost that the shift has been “a complete cultural change,” pointing out that “we’re starting to ask those questions very, very directly, in ways where, previously, you’ve maybe just hinted at it.” Redden also reports that campaigns are relying on whisper networks:
One close aide to a possible 2020 contender said their camp is asking nearly everyone auditioning for a top role to disclose any past complaints about workplace behavior. Another said she is performing a battery of “soft background checks” by placing calls to activists — mostly women — who serve as the informal nerve center for whisper networks.
Over the past two years, story after story has come out of political campaigns at every level failing to properly vet and handle sexual harassment and assault within their ranks. Only earlier this month, Larry Wallace, a staffer for rumored presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris, resigned after the Sacramento Bee reported on a sexual harassment settlement from his time working for Harris at the California Department of Justice.
This shift is long overdue. And for potential 2020 Democratic candidates who have strong records speaking out about sexual harassment, it’s important for them to put their proverbial money where their mouth is. Creating a safe working environment for women and people of color will only strengthen their campaigns from inside and out.