Warren apologizes to women of color over Nevada office
Elizabeth Warren offered a public apology Thursday after female staff in her her Democratic presidential campaign’s Nevada office said the culture there was so unfriendly to minorities that several of them resigned.
Speaking to reporters in New Hampshire, Warren called the women who left the campaign’s Nevada operations “courageous” for coming forward with concerns about a toxic work environment. She said she took personal responsibility for their experience while working for her campaign.
“I believe these women completely and without reservation and I apologize that they have had a bad experience on this campaign,” Warren told reporters in Derry, New Hampshire. “I also understand the long legacy of racism in this country and what it means,” she said, adding that it can create “power dynamics and inequities that are toxic and dangerous.”
Politico reported earlier Thursday that six women of color had resigned, with three of them describing a toxic work environment in which they said they felt marginalized. One former staffer described the environment in an interview with Bloomberg News.
Megan Lewis, 21, joined the Nevada for Warren campaign in May. As a field organizer in the Reno area, she said leadership micromanaged and made passive aggressive comments toward some staffers. She said some organizers were given preferential treatment, while other minority staffers said they felt marginalized.“During the time I was employed with Nevada for Warren there was definitely something wrong with the culture,” Lewis said. “One’s racial identity was minimized or made insignificant through sheer exclusion of literature and access to organizers that represent various racial groups. Whether intentional or unintentional it had a negative impact.”
Lewis flagged her concerns to her superiors, but she said they did not do enough to adequately address them.“I filed a complaint with HR but the follow-up I received left me feeling as though I needed to make myself smaller or change who I was to fit into the office culture,” Lewis said. “During check-ins with other staff the consensus was a need to keep our heads down to avoid the daily confrontation and try to make it through Election Day.”
Nevada holds its presidential nominating caucus on Feb. 22.
Lewis offered her resignation in December. Another five women of color left the campaign who couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
“I want to make enough space in my offices to make sure that we’re hearing from everyone, and to determine where there may be other concerns. It is important to stay vigilant,” Warren said.
The allegations come at a sensitive time for Warren, as she tries to advance her candidacy after coming in third behind Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses. Warren is campaigning in New Hampshire before Tuesday’s primary but is polling in fourth place.
Nevada will be an important test for Warren who’s pitched herself as a unity candidate and will need to show appeal to non-white voters to win the nomination.
Even though she left the campaign, Lewis said she is still supporting Elizabeth Warren.
(Disclaimer: Michael Bloomberg is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. He is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)