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Hillary Clinton Shielded Adviser Accused of Sexual Harassment

Hillary Clinton in 2007. (Charles Dharapak / AP)

Hillary Clinton shielded a senior adviser to her 2008 presidential campaign when he was accused of sexually harassing another one of her staff members, a new report by The New York Times reveals. The “faith adviser” to Clinton, Burns Strider, underwent counseling and lost “several weeks” of pay but was not removed from his position despite recommendations that he be fired.

The Times writes:

The complaint from the young woman was initially brought to Jess O’Connell, who was the national director of operations for the Clinton campaign.

Ms. O’Connell, who is currently chief executive officer of the Democratic National Committee, handled the investigation and advised [campaign manager] Ms. Solis Doyle that Mr. Strider should be fired, according to three people familiar with the events.

Ms. O’Connell told colleagues she was concerned that the young woman making the allegations should not be demoted when she was moved from Mr. Strider’s supervision. The woman requested to have no more interactions with Mr. Strider, and she was moved to a different job within the campaign, reporting directly to Mike Henry, the deputy campaign manager.

The investigation into Mr. Strider’s conduct was described as brief, but it included a review of a number of emails he sent the young woman, who had shared an office with him.

Strider went on to co-found the American Values Network, a Christian lobbyist organization focused on “building up the American family and community values.” He did not respond to requests for comment, the Times writes. It reports that Strider was fired from an independent pro-Clinton organization in 2016, Correct the Record, for workplace issues “including allegations that he harassed a young female aide, according to three people close to Correct the Record’s management.”

Those with knowledge of the 2008 harassment issue were hesitant to step forward but felt compelled to do so in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the Times adds. Clinton, who identifies as a feminist, has said very little about the #MeToo movement, although she released a statement condemning Harvey Weinstein.

If the allegations against Clinton are true—that she knowingly kept a senior adviser accused of sexual harassment on her staff while relocating his accuser to a different position—then the discussion surrounding #MeToo could lump her in with numerous other older women who are coming under fire for protecting powerful men rather than listening to their accusers. Germaine Greer, Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot, Donna Karan and others have come under attack for what many see as a limited, “second-wave feminism.” It’s a conversation that requires careful articulation, however: Many critics have also pointed out that #MeToo would not exist without the work of young feminists such as, for example, Hillary Clinton.

Will a nuanced conversation of modern feminism, the #MeToo movement and those who pioneered women’s rights take place on a mainstream stage? Probably not. But progressive young women seeking to make change are following the discussion closely, with movements like #MeToo and the Women’s March spurring women to take up politics at an unprecedented rate.

Clinton briefly commented on the issue of sexual harassment in Hollywood in an interview last year with Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show,” but her remarks were prescient, considering the currency of the issue.

“Maybe now, with these revelations coming out, more people will feel emboldened,” she said, “and most importantly, the spotlight will shine on people who will think twice about doing some of these terrible things that they are reported to have done.”

Emma Niles
Assistant Editor
Emma Niles, an assistant editor at Truthdig, graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a degree in political science. She has worked for the National Women’s Law Center and Ms. Magazine.…
Emma Niles

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