A woman who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign accused her boss, Burns Strider, of sexual harassment in the forms of inappropriate touching and sexual comments.
But after the young woman filed an official complaint, and against the advice of senior aides, Clinton refused to fire him from the campaign – instead docking his pay and demoting him, and reassigning the staffer to a different department.
So when Clinton lost the Democratic candidate bid to Barack Obama, Strider’s reputation wasn’t hurt, and he continued on working in high power positions in Washington.
In 2013 he started a job at the pro-Clinton super PAC American Bridge, where he headed a new project and was named vice president.
Two of his female subordinates at the job have revealed that during their time working for Strider he sexually harassed them – stalked them- and even made them feel like he might hinder their future careers if they spoke up, Buzzfeed news reported.
After Clinton refused to fire Burns Strider when a subordinate accused him of sexual harassment in 2007, Strider allegedly went on to treat other females the same way at his next job at the pro-Clinton super PAC American Bridge from 2013 to 2015. Strider and Clinton are pictured together at her 70th birthday in 2017
Two of his female subordinates at the job have revealed that during their time working for Strider he sexually harassed them – stalked them- and even made them feel like he might hinder their future careers if they spoke up, Buzzfeed news reported
In the years after the 2008 campaign Strider thrived professionally – eventually taking on a senior role at the pro-Clinton super PAC American Bridge in November 2013, just after Clinton left the State Department.
It was announced that Strider would head a new project called Correct the Record, and he was named vice president at the super PAC – which was headed by longtime Clinton ally David Brock.
While at that job he allegedly sexually harassed two young female subordinates who worked for him.
The first woman, who remains anonymous, said Strider made repeated comments about her looks, constantly ‘touched her, and closely monitored and controlled her activities inside and outside the office, she told Buzzfeed.
She said she started working at Correct the Record at the same time as Strider – and that almost immediately he started making comments about her looks that made her uncomfortable.
The woman said he would say things to her like ‘you look sexy,’ and described ‘constant touching.’
It was announced that Strider would head a new project called Correct the Record, and he was named vice president at the super PAC – which was headed by longtime Clinton ally David Brock. While at that job he allegedly sexually harassed two young female subordinates who worked for him
She claims Strider would rub her back and shoulders and grab her waist from behind. He gave similar back rubs to other female staffers while they were at work, she said.
She said he was often controlling, and sent late-night texts and accessed her work calendar to check on her location. When she didn’t have anything scheduled he would ask her to get together.
Eventually she said she started entering fake events just to avoid the invitations.
The woman gave Buzzfeed emails and text messages from Strider while she was working at Correct the Record – in many of which he expressed affection for her.
In one of multiple inappropriate text messages, which he sent her around 10pm on November 22, 2015, Strider said: ‘your love for me is so palpable. Poor thing. Hang in there.’
During meetings she said he often discussed his close relationship with Hillary Clinton – referring to her as ‘boss lady.’
When a subordinate expressed discomfort being referred to as ‘honey’ and ‘baby’ he said he speaks that way to all of his friends and even top Clinton ally Minyon Moore.
The former employee told Buzzfeed that because this was her first job in politics she thought the behavior was just part of the ‘high-stakes, chaotic world of big-time campaigns and super PACs.’
She said that he reinforced that view, at multiple points telling her she’d need to be tougher if she wanted to move up the ladder in Washington.
‘I just felt like if yo uwant to work in politics, you have to be tough enough to endure this,’ the woman told Buzzfeed.
‘I felt embarrassed quitting.’
She said she eventually quit after she attended an event with her mother – who spotted Strider rub her daughter’s back.
In a 45-minute interview with Buzzfeed on Saturday, Strider didn’t deny the allegations or dispute the inappropriate language.
Instead he said he didn’t realize, at the time, that those ‘terms in the work place ‘ weren’t appropriate or preferred.
‘At the time there were certainly terms I [used]. It’s just something I have to broadly apologize for,’ he said.
But he did deny that he tracked her schedule on her calendar – claiming he didn’t know how to access another person’s calendar.
The first woman, who remains anonymous, said Strider made repeated comments about her looks, constantly ‘touched her, and closely monitored and controlled her activities inside and outside the office, she told Buzzfeed. Strider (left) is pictured with Bill and Hillary Clinton and two other people in this undated Instagram photo
The second woman to accuse Strider of misconduct is a former direct subordinate who joined Correct the Record in spring 2014.
She said she was excited to work for a PAC and lay the ground for what she thought would be a historic presidential campaign.
During the year she worked with Strider she claims he made comments about her outfits and about her physique. She also described him as controlling and said the smallest things would cause him to become ‘explosively angry.’
The second woman to accuse Strider of misconduct is a former direct subordinate who joined Correct the Record in spring 2014. During the year she worked with Strider she claims he made comments about her outfits and about her physique. She also described him as controlling and said the smallest things would cause him to become ‘explosively angry’
In early 2015 she said she and Strider shared an Uber home after a networking event – and when the car pulled up at her apartment he got out with her and kissed her on the tip of her nose.
She said she was ‘rattled and upset,’ and confronted him the next day. She said he apologized and ‘told her he adored her and thought of her as a little sister.’
Strider told Buzzfeed on Saturday that he didn’t remember that incident – but that if it happened he would’ve kissed her on the head, not the nose.
After the incident outside the Uber the employee started looking for a new job.
She said at the time she was afraid if she applied to any of the openings within the organization word could get back to him and he could hinder her political career. She knew he was a well connected man and was worried about what he could do to her if he felt scorned.
In May 2015 she accepted a new job offer on the spot and gave her notice, she told Buzzfeed.
Her lawyer, Ari Wilkenfeld provided a statement to Buzzfeed Saturday in which she expresses her support for the #MeToo movement.
‘It is very intimidating to open yourself up to such scrutiny like this, but it is essential,’ he said.
In 2014 after the first direct subordinate quit – a colleague raised concerns about Strider’s behavior with a senior official at Correct the Record. The official said he would do his best to deal with the situation, the colleague explained.
That first woman at the PAC to come forward about Strider said she was contacted about his behavior a year after she left American Bridge.
She said a senior official asked her about the behaivor and apologized on the behalf of the oragnization and hte staff.
At that time American Bridge officials began an internal investigation into Strider’s conduct and issues of sexual harassment, Buzzfeed reported. He finally left the organization in 2015, but continues to work in Democratic politics.
Insta-boast: After the 2016 campaign Clinton thanked Strider in a personalized signed letter – which he posted on his social media account
The messages and stories the two woman told Buzzfeed are similar to many of the complaints made in 2007 by Hillary’s staffer
Strider addressed the bulk of these complaints while speaking to the outlet Saturday – confirming many but also saying he didn’t remember many of the incidents the same way.
He also said that some of the actions were misconstrued as him just being friendly. Strider explained that many of his actions were characteristic of his Southern background.
He also apologized for his actions – saying that he’s struggled with depression and is currently in therapy.
Strider is still working in Democratic politics and is the president of the American Values Network. He attended Hillary Clinton’s 70th birthday party in 2017.
The messages and stories the two woman told Buzzfeed are similar to many of the complaints made in 2007 by Hillary’s staffer.
In 2007 senior aides on Clinton’s campaign reportedly told the then-candidate to fire Strider, the New York Times reported Friday.
A young woman had filed a complaint against him – describing in it ‘five kisses on her head’ and ‘excessive tracking’ of her location, among other concerns, according to campaign documents.
The complaint said Strider, who was 42 and married at the time, ‘gets angry when she doesn’t share or reveal persona information,’ ‘wants her to leave all events with him,’ and ‘makes a point of always leaving with her,’ ‘told her he loved her as a friend,’ ‘told her he wanted to get her drunk,’ and ‘told her he buys porn while on the road for travel.’
Documents also include emails Strider sent to the woman on successive nights – the first of which he drunkenly inappropriately complimented her, and the second of which he said he thinks she’s ‘the whole package’ and ‘ALL of you is amazing.’
The woman filed her complaint with the national director of operations Jessica O’Connell and quickly rose to the attention of campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle.
When the complaint reached Clinton, Solis Doyle urged Clinton to fire Strider. O’Connell also recommended he be fired.
But Strider wasn’t pushed out and instead was punished, and his pay was docked and title demoted.
He was also told to complete counseling and his campaign email was controlled so he couldn’t contact the woman who filed the complaint.
That young woman, on the other hand, was moved from her role to a different department.
Speaking to Buzzfeed, Strider didn’t deny the allegations, but said he didn’t know they made her uncomforatble.
‘I didn’t consider it excessive, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t to her,’ he said to Buzzfeed about the alleged conduct.
The complaint said Strider, who was 42 and married at the time, ‘gets angry when she doesn’t share or reveal persona information,’ ‘wants her to leave all events with him,’ and ‘makes a point of always leaving with her,’ ‘told her he loved her as a friend,’ ‘told her he wanted to get her drunk,’ and ‘told her he buys porn while on the road for travel’
The woman filed her complaint with the national director of operations Jessica O’Connell (right) and quickly rose to the attention of campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle (left). When the complaint reached Clinton, Solis Doyle urged Clinton to fire Strider. O’Connell also recommended he be fired
Clinton responded to the claims that she would not fire Strider on Friday night, saying the woman was ‘heard’ and ‘had her concerns taken seriously.’
‘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 tweeted.
In a follow-up tweet she added: ‘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.’
She didn’t directly address how the victim ‘was heard,’ and didn’t explain why she reassigned the woman and protected the adviser.
A Clinton spokesman sent the Times a statement earlier on Friday, through a law firm.
‘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. This complaint was no exception,’ the statement said.
Clinton has been long considered to be an advocate for women’s rights, but has been conspicuously quiet about the #MeToo moment, an organic groundswell of women who have come forward in the past year to accuse powerful men of sexually harassing and abusing them.
One by one, drip by drip, dozens of accused sexual predators in Hollywood, journalism, the restaurant industry and even the U.S. Senate have seen their high-profile careers end.
During the 2016 campaign, Hillary tweeted that every victim of sexual assault had ‘the right to be believed,’ taking a swing at then-candidate Donald Trump, who has been accused by 19 women of sexual assault or harassment.
But when a woman at a 2015 rally in New Hampshire asked her if her husband’s accusers should be believed, she responded: ‘Well, I would say that everybody should be believed at first until they are disbelieved based on evidence.’
Clinton responded to the claims that she would not fire Strider on Friday night, saying the woman was ‘heard’ and ‘had her concerns taken seriously.’
Clinton has been close for decades with Harvey Weinstein, whose career came to a crashing halt at the top of the#MeToo movement’s spear
Clinton also has ties to the man who sparked the #MeToo movement – disgraced former film mogul Harvey Weinstein, who donated $1.4 million to Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
When Bill Clinton faced impeachment nearly two decades ago, Weinstein donated $10,000 to his legal defense fund.
Hillary Clinton condemned Weinstein in 2017, saying she was ‘shocked and appalled by the allegations.’
But the actress Lena Dunham contended weeks later that in 2008 she warned Clinton’s staff that the Democratic candidate should stay away from him.
‘I just want you to know that Harvey’s a rapist and this is going to come out at some point,’ Dunham said she told the Clinton campaign.
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill insisted at the time that the ‘Girls’ star was mis-remembering things.
‘We were shocked when we learned what he’d done. It’s despicable behavior, and the women that have come forward have shown enormous courage,’ he said.
‘As to claims about a warning, that’s something staff wouldn’t forget.’
The Clinton Foundation, Bill and Hillary’s family philanthropy, said in October that it would not return money Weinstein has donated in the past.
The foundation’s website puts those contribution in a category between $100,000 and $250,000.
Clinton pledged later to give the money to charity – as part of the 10 per cent of her income that she already contributes each year.