The Center for American Progress, a liberal politics and policy group founded by former Clinton campaign chair John Podesta in 2003, has been exposed.
Despite issuing numerous policy papers outlining how to combat sexual harassment in the workplace, it seems the Democratic think-tank doesn’t take its own advice.
According to an explosive report by BuzzFeed News, which conducted interviews with 19 current and former CAP staffers, the organization has mishandled sexual assault allegations within its own ranks, failing to adequately protect female staffers and ignoring their concerns.
One young woman quit after alleging repeated sexual harassment by a manager on her team, Benton Strong, harassment that she says management knew about.
In an exit memo, she wrote that, “on several occasions, myself and others on the team felt as if reporting had been a mistake and that the retaliation, worsening of already tenuous team dynamics, and treatment by supervisors outweighed the seemingly positive act of reporting sexual harassment in the workplace.”
“CAP’s culture obscures its mission,” she wrote. “All of this to say, I surely expected better out of an organization that housed a national campaign on sexual assault.”
Hers wasn’t the only case. CAP’s employee union wrote a memo in July 2016 detailing “several incidents of sexual harassment against several members of our unit.”
The memo outlined its concerns, which included failing to take prompt or sufficient action against accused employees, failing to create safe spaces in which employees feel comfortable reporting incidents, failing to take steps to prevent further incidents and failing to inform employees of what they can do about sexual harassment in the workplace.
There were, however, more position papers, which were sent out to bolster Democrats’ talking points on the subject. One was called “Creating a Fair Process to Combat Sexual Harassment is Essential to Women’s Progress.” Another, “From Politics to Policy: Turning the Corner on Sexual Harassment.”
In light of CAP’s obvious public interest in sexual harassment, its private disinterest in it is alarming. CAP’s president, Neera Tanden, in particular is a vocal and visible face of the left and an adviser to Hillary Clinton who’s known for her cutting and sometimes distasteful takedowns of Republicans for their stances on women’s issues. Just late last year, in fact, she deleted a tweet in which she seemed to delight in the California wildfires approaching Fox media head Rupert Murdoch’s house.
“There’s a God. And she’s unhappy,” she tweeted.
Tanden issued a statement alleging inaccuracies in the BuzzFeed report, but not explaining what they are. She also wrote, “At the end of the day the most important thing is that our staff feel safe, supported, and listened to. That that didn’t happen is something that is on me to rectify for the future.”
If this story sounds a little familiar, that’s because not long ago — earlier this year — we learned that Hillary Clinton had shielded an employee on her 2008 campaign from sexual harassment allegations. Instead of firing him, she moved him to another position on her PAC, where he continued to harass female employees.
She issued a heavily criticized statement on Facebook, in which she explained, in countless ways, why she wasn’t entirely responsible.
For one, she was quick to state off the top:
“The most important work of my life has been to support and empower women. I’ve tried to do so here at home, around the world, and in the organizations I’ve run. I started in my twenties, and four decades later I’m nowhere near being done. I’m proud that it’s the work I’m most associated with, and it remains what I’m most dedicated to.”
That is, because Clinton has been a public advocate for women, you should dismiss the fact that privately, she hasn’t always been one. In fact, just ask Monica Lewinsky and other women who have accused her husband of sexual harassment and rape, and they’ll tell you just how unsupported they felt when she was destroying their reputations.
To add to the familiar feeling, Linda Sarsour, a co-founder of the Women’s March, was accused late last year of enabling sexual harassment at the nonprofit Arab American Association, allegedly fat-shaming a woman who reported an incident of sexual assault.
Why is it that these women, who purport to defend and support women politically, can’t seem to ensure it personally?
Maybe they believe that, because they are on the “right side” of women’s issues — that is, the left — they don’t have to actually put in the hard work of defending them in practice, but can rely instead on the more glossy work of defending them in theory.
Or, more cynically, maybe they believe that, because they are on the “right side” of women’s issues, they must bury any unseemly sexual harassment allegations fear of losing credibility.
Maybe women who say they support women should figure out how to actually do that when it counts most, before lecturing other women — like conservative women — about how we are standing against them.
Contact Cupp at thesecupp.com.
This column first appeared in the New York Daily News.
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