The New York Times reported Friday that Burns Strider, the faith adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, sexually harassed a young campaign staffer in 2007.
But a new report from BuzzFeed found the harassment continued to Strider’s time working for a Clinton super PAC. Still, Clinton kept Strider in her inner circle, all the while claiming she stands with women against sexual harassment.
The Times report found that when Strider’s behavior was reported to top campaign officials in 2007, Clinton didn’t want to fire him — at the request of her campaign manager. Instead, the campaign demoted Strider, docked his pay and moved the victim to a separate department in the campaign.
In reality, Strider was never held accountable for his behavior, which, according to BuzzFeed, included being “touchy,” giving unwanted kisses, being controlling, being possessive, inappropriately tracking whereabouts of female subordinates and making inappropriate comments.
Despite being lightly reprimanded, Strider continued to work and travel with the campaign as a senior member.
After the campaign, Strider founded his own organization, the American Values Network. Later in November 2013, as Clinton was gearing up for a presidential run, he joined forces with American Bridge, a Democratic super PAC run by longtime Clinton ally, David Brock.
There, Strider led a new project called “Correct The Record,” a research firm dedicated to defending Clinton in the run-up to her 2016 campaign. But because Strider was never held accountable for his workplace conduct, the inappropriate kissing, touching and borderline stalking continued at Correct The Record.
What happened at CTR?
According to six people who spoke with BuzzFeed, Strider exhibited the same behavior in his 18 months at Correct The Record that he did in the Clinton campaign. Two of the women told their stories to BuzzFeed.
More from BuzzFeed:
The first woman, who asked not to be named to protect her privacy, described a boss who repeatedly commented on her looks, who engaged in "constant" touching, and who sought to closely monitor and control her activity inside and outside the office.
The second former direct subordinate joined Correct the Record in the spring of 2014, excited to work for a PAC laying the groundwork for a historic presidential campaign. She served under Strider for more than a year. Over that time, she said, he often made comments about her outfits and her body. She also described a manager who was controlling and could become explosively angry at the slightest provocation.
Both women eventually quit their jobs at Correct The Record, citing Strider’s behavior.
About a year after the first woman quit in 2014, senior officials at American Bridge and Correct The Record began seriously investigating Strider's behavior. Just a short time later, in the summer 2015, Strider was forced out.
Still, despite his record of workplace harassment, Strider remained very close with the Clintons. BuzzFeed noted some of Strider's emails were found on Clinton's private email server. He also attended Clinton's 70th birthday party last year and tweeted a picture of himself and Clinton having lunch last March.
What did Strider say?
Surprisingly, he mostly confirmed what he's being accused of, though he challenged the reported version of events and some of the accusations. According to BuzzFeed, he "dismissed some of his actions as simply friendly, or characteristic of what he described as his Southern background."
Meanwhile, he apologized "broadly" and explained he is in therapy and has struggled with depression. He also revealed that he doesn't consider his behavior "excessive," but acknowledged his victims do.
Addressing his unwanted kissing, he said he never did it in a sexual manner, but only to cheer his staff on and in a "devotional blessing" way.
Clinton's former campaign manager speaks
Patti Solis Doyle, now a CNN political commentator, was Clinton's campaign manager in 2008. When she was asked on CNN Monday about what happened concerning Strider, Solis Doyle was candid. She explained she wanted to fire Strider, but her boss? Not so much.
"I was overruled," Solis Doyle said of Clinton.