Since the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, and her pant suits, have symbolized feminism in politics for millions of women. But her credentials haven’t always been rock solid, and they’ll receive a further blow from a damning new report that she sheltered an advisor from sexual harassment claims.
The New York Times reported today that, during her 2008 presidential campaign, Clinton protected a campaign aide from charges of sexually harassing a young colleague, with whom he shared an office. The accused aide, Burns Strider, was Clinton’s faith advisor. His duties included sending out scripture readings as morning meditations during the campaign.
Strider is the cofounder of the American Values Network, which, according to its website, wants “to enroll, engage, and enable faithful Americans and others of goodwill to stand up, speak out, and actively participate in building up… American family and community values.’” He was married at the time of the alleged harassment.
Burns’ colleague “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 reports, citing three officials close to the campaign.
Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton’s 2008 campaign manager, apparently wanted Strider fired. But Clinton kept Strider on, allegedly choosing instead to withheld several weeks of pay and send him to counseling.
In a page right out of so many stories shared in the #MeToo movement, Strider stayed in his role, while his alleged victim was moved to a different job. (Also like so many women who have spoken up about harassment in recent months, the woman has not spoken publicly about the event, likely due to the standard nondisclosure agreement she signed with the campaign.)
Although Clinton has not been a face for #MeToo, she did speak out against Harvey Weinstein, movie mogul and one of her biggest supporters, when damning allegations that he had a history as a serial molester were exposed by the New York Times in October.
In light of statements made by actress Lena Dunham, however, it’s unclear how surprised Clinton would have been about Weinstein’s past. Dunham has told the Times that she warned Clinton’s communications team that “Harvey’s a rapist and this is going to come out at some point.” She didn’t think he should be hosting parties and events backing Clinton.
A similar warning was apparently made by Tina Brown, journalist and editor, during the 2008 campaign.
Officials from both election periods have said they can not recall such warnings. One of Clinton’s 2016 aides said that Dunham didn’t mention rape specifically.
Recently, Clinton has cheered on women in politics, posting Tweets like this:
Today, that support rings somewhat hollow.