A top adviser accused of sexual harassment during Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign was allowed to keep his job, thanks to Clinton herself — a decision she said Tuesday that she now regrets.
"I very much understand the question I’m being asked as to why I let an employee on my 2008 campaign keep his job despite his inappropriate workplace behavior," Clinton wrote on Facebook, less than 20 minutes before President Trump’s State of the Union address. "The short answer is this: If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t.”
The revelation about the campaign worker's behavior was first reported last week by the New York Times. Clinton responded at length in her Facebook post, which served not only as an admission that she regretted her 2008 decision, but also as an explanation of how difficult personnel decisions can be.
She never named the campaign worker, who was identified by the Times as Burns Strider, senior advisor and director of faith and values outreach. A co-worker accused Strider of repeatedly sexually harassing her while working for Clinton. The co-worker filed a complaint to the campaign.
"A woman working on my campaign came forward with a complaint about her supervisor behaving inappropriately toward her," Clinton wrote Tuesday. "She and her complaint were taken seriously. Senior campaign staff and legal counsel spoke to both her and the offender. They determined that he had in fact engaged in inappropriate behavior."
Clinton said her campaign manager recommended that the man be fired. But Clinton said she "asked for steps that could be taken short of termination."
"In the end, I decided to demote him, docking his pay; separate him from the woman; assign her to work directly for my then-deputy-campaign manager; put in place technical barriers to his emailing her; and require that he seek counseling," Clinton wrote.
Strider was a founder of the American Values Network and sent the candidate scripture readings every morning for months during the campaign, the Times reported. The paper said he was hired five years later to lead an independent group that supported Clinton’s 2016 candidacy, Correct the Record, which was created by a close Clinton ally, David Brock.
He was fired after several months for workplace issues, including allegations that he harassed a young female aide, according to the Times, citing three people close to Correct the Record’s management.
The complaint in 2008 against Strider was made by a 30-year-old woman who shared an office with him. She told a campaign official that Mr. Strider had rubbed her shoulders inappropriately, kissed her on the forehead and sent her a string of suggestive emails, including at least one during the night, the Times reported.
Clinton argued in her posting Tuesday that she has made thousands of personnel decisions that "worked out well." She said she believes in "second chances."
She said she has since reached out to the female campaign worker and been "inspired by my conversation with this young woman."
"You may question why it’s taken me time to speak on this at length. The answer is simple: I’ve been grappling with this and thinking about how best to share my thoughts. I hope that my doing so will push others to keep having this conversation," Clinton wrote.
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