Twice-failed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has found herself at the center of an emerging controversy after reports surfaced that she protected a senior male staffer from claims of sexual harassment during her 2008 bid for the Oval Office.
A New York Times investigation into the matter uncovered that Burns Strider – who served as Clinton’s faith adviser and sent her scripture readings every morning for months, ironically enough – had repeatedly sexually pestered a young female aide who was subordinate to him.
Clinton’s campaign manager soberly advised the former first lady to fire Strider, but she chose not to. Instead, she transferred the victim to a new job, withheld several weeks’ worth of pay from Strider, and ordered him to undergo counseling.
That was not the end of the professional relationship between Clinton and Strider, however, Nearly a decade later, the alleged sexual harasser was appointed to lead Correct the Record, an organization created by Clinton ally David Brock that has been accused of astroturfing social media platforms and online forums in order to paint Clinton in a positive light.
While working for Correct the Record, Strider once again succumbed to a slew of workplace sexual misconduct allegations. Clinton’s camp reportedly advised her multiple times to distance herself from Strider, but mainly because they did not want her brand to be tarnished by the misdeeds of the men in her inner circle.
A Clinton spokesman offered a statement from Utrecht, Kleinfeld, Fiori, Partners, the law firm that represented the Clinton campaign in 2008.
“To ensure a safe working environment, the campaign had a process to address complaints of misconduct or harassment. When matters arose, they were reviewed in accordance with these policies, and appropriate action was taken,” the statement said. “This complaint was no exception.”
When the story appeared, Clinton rushed to social media to reframe herself as a #MeToo movement champion: “I called her today to tell her how proud I am of her and to make sure she knows what all women should: we deserve to be heard.”
A story appeared today about something that happened in 2008. I was dismayed when it occurred, but was heartened the young woman came forward, was heard, and had her concerns taken seriously and addressed.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) January 27, 2018
Some commenters were not convinced.
“Bull,” one wrote. “You kept him on after calls to have him removed. Just once own up to something.”