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By John Ubaldi
Columnist, In Homeland Security
Last year, the nation was engulfed in a bitter confirmation battle as to whether Brett Kavanaugh was qualified to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. During his Senate confirmation, allegations surfaced that Kavanaugh had engaged in sexual misconduct almost 40 years ago, even though his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, provided no actual evidence to corroborate her accusations.
Last Wednesday, the New York Times reported that several women leveled similar accusations against male staff members of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The accusations concerned incidents that occurred during Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.
The women on his campaign staff complained that they had been sexually harassed by male staffers. They also said they suffered pay disparities and that none of their accusations was ever adequately addressed.
CNN Questioned Sanders about Misconduct Allegations
When pressed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Sanders said that he was unaware of the allegations. He observed, “I was little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case [for the Democratic presidential nomination].”
Sanders continued, “I am not going to sit here and tell you that we did everything right in terms of human resources, in terms of addressing the needs that I’m hearing from now, that various women felt they were disrespected, that there was sexual harassment which was not dealt with as effectively as possible.”
But why didn’t Cooper press Sanders harder, especially on his response that he was “too busy”? Why did Sanders receive such easy treatment?
Sanders Faces Less Media Scrutiny than Kavanaugh
It is unlikely that any Republican would have responded in such a cavalier and nonchalant manner about misconduct allegations. The media have not continued to press Sanders on what he knew and when he knew it. They have made few attempts to obtain a better accounting of the victims’ allegations.
This is a different type of media coverage than Justice Kavanaugh received. It appears that Democrats and Republicans or anyone affiliated with them are subjected to a double standard with regard to sexual misconduct.
Throughout the #MeToo movement, we were told that all women should be heard. More importantly, we were told that they should be believed.
Where were all the protests across the country that were so prevalent during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing? Everyone is now eerily silent.
Democratic Senator’s Staffer Resigns over Misconduct
Sanders is not the first politician to face recent sexual misconduct allegations. Last month, Larry Wallace, one of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris’s (D-CA) longtime senior staff members, was forced to resign.
The Sacramento Bee reported that Wallace’s former executive assistant received a $400,000 sexual harassment and retaliation settlement for Wallace’s conduct toward her when Wallace worked with Harris at the California Department of Justice.
Harris spokeswoman Lily Adams wrote in an email, “We were unaware of this issue and take accusations of harassment extremely seriously. This evening, Mr. Wallace offered his resignation to the senator and she accepted it.”
Harris was one of Kavanaugh’s main critics. She used her position on the Senate Judiciary Committee to question him intensely, especially after the sexual misconduct allegations surfaced.
Harris stated that California Justice Department officials didn’t tell her about the Wallace situation. Was this a way to preserve her deniability and protect her potential presidential ambitions?
Perhaps she did know about the case, but figured a nondisclosure agreement would bury the issue forever. Either account poses troubling questions for her.
Democrats Elected Amid Misconduct Allegations
Even during last year’s mid-term elections, four elected Democrats faced serious sexual misconduct allegations that were never proven. Representative Tony Cárdenas, Representative Bobby Scott and Senator Bob Menendez are serving in Congress. Menendez even underwent a trial, which ended in a hung jury.
Similarly, Keith Ellison was elected Attorney General of Minnesota. Attorneys hired by the Minnesota Democratic Party said claims of domestic abuse against Ellison were “unsubstantiated.”
Sexual Misconduct in Chicago Public School System
The scourge of sexual misconduct has even permeated other areas besides politics. Throughout June and July of 2017, the Chicago Tribune conducted an extensive investigation of the Chicago Public Schools system. The investigation determined that from 2008 to 2017, more than 520 children were sexually assaulted or abused. Nothing was done to protect them, even after the alleged abuses were reported to authorities.
Did Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel know about the abuses of these children? After all, he was mayor for eight of those years.
Emanuel has not been held to account. In fact, Emanuel’s appointed heads of the Board of Education and the Chicago Public Schools, who knew about the abuse cases, are still in office.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, (D-Ill), also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has not called for an investigation into the Chicago school system scandal. Ironically, Durbin was quick to question Kavanaugh about his alleged sexual abuse.
Does a Double Standard Exist with Regard to Sexual Misconduct?
When it’s a Republican or anyone affiliated with the GOP who is charged with misconduct, everyone is outraged. But when it’s a Democrat, he or she is given a pass.
If sexual misconduct against women is to be eradicated and those who commit such despicable acts are held to account, all such incidents must be thoroughly investigated. That includes not just public figures we dislike, but also those we respect and support. If we don’t handle such reprehensible actions equally, the lives of more people — women and men — will be destroyed.