Hillary Clinton is under fire after a new bombshell New York Times report revealed that she shielded campaign adviser Burns Strider after he was accused of repeatedly harassing a younger, female campaign staffer in 2008.
The heat she’s facing is more than justified. Instead of firing Strider, as was recommended by Clinton’s top campaign staffers, the former presidential nominee docked Strider “several weeks of pay” and required him to “undergo counseling.” His accuser, meanwhile, was swiftly swept into a new job.
Clinton responded to the report, tweeting that she was “heartened the young woman came forward” and that “all women deserve to be heard.”
She’s absolutely right — which makes her both hypocritical and negligible. That her sexual harassment policy was anything less than “zero tolerance” is completely irresponsible — particularly for someone who claims to be a champion of women’s rights and the #MeToo movement.
It’s not as if the allegations against Strider were baseless. Strider’s accuser documented at least five times in which he attempted to kiss her on the head. She also described multiple instances of “excessive tracking” of her whereabouts, according to a BuzzFeed News report.
After a brief investigation into the allegations, including an internal review of the high number of emails Strider sent to the female staffer, Clinton’s top campaign officials found Strider to be a liability. In fact, Clinton’s 2008 campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, publicly stated that after looking at all the evidence, she found Strider’s accuser to be “very credible” and that her recommendation to Clinton was “to fire him.”
She was overruled.
Sans any real consequences, Strider continued to land high profile political jobs. Six years later, he began working at Correct the Record, a pro-Clinton super PAC that supported Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid.
Not surprisingly, Strider returned to his pattern of workplace sexual harassment. Between 2007 and 2015, Strider accumulated at least three different sexual harassment complaints from women who worked for Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign or Correct the Record. The claims included inappropriate touching, sexual comments, and yet another instance of Strider attempting to kiss his female subordinates.
Strider was eventually fired from Correct the Record for his sexual harassment allegations as well as other workplace issues. Even so, the damage was done.
To be sure, Hillary Clinton did not force Strider to harass his female colleagues — nor did she condone his actions. Strider — and men just like him — are solely to blame for the harassment many women face on a daily basis.
That said, being a #MeToo ally — whether you’re a man or woman — means taking a stand against the Burns Striders of the world. It means recognizing these injustices, and adequately responding to them.
In this instance, Hillary Clinton was not a #MeToo ally. By not firing Strider in 2007, Clinton enabled him to seamlessly pursue his career, and continue harassing other women in the process. That reality is true regardless of how vocal of a supporter she’s been for women in recent years.
Jacy Gomez is a communications specialist based in Washington, D.C.