A former Bernie Sanders campaign staffer was hit with accusations of sexism and fiscal improprieties after launching a congressional campaign.
Arturo Carmona, who is among 24 candidates running for the congressional seat vacated by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, denied the accusations made against him by another staffer, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Masha Mendieta, a former Latino outreach strategist for the Sanders campaign, published a post detailing her complaints Friday on the Medium website, where she accused Carmona of treating women staffers unfairly and focusing on their physical attractiveness.
Mendieta said she decided to come forward after Carmona’s campaign manager called her about similar claims circulating on MisogynyLeaks social media accounts, and she was dismayed that fellow Sanders supporters had attacked the accusers.
“Those of us who worked with Arturo personally behind closed doors, we all know it to be true,” Mendieta wrote. “But we are all terrified of retribution, of ruining our careers, of tarnishing our reputations. After all, it’s politics. That’s what they tell us to fear, so we don’t speak out. But why should the victims be scared? What would Bernie do? He would say the offender is the one who should be scared of his reputation. Not us.”
She accused Carmona of booking flights back home to California using the campaign travel agency, which was forbidden, and took credit for an immigration policy statement written by two other staffers.
“I can’t think of one he did himself while I was there,” Mendieta wrote. “We all saw how he would demean the female staff, treat us like his personal assistants fetching things for him and doing his errands, while he never asked male staff with the same titles to do any of that. I remember being told by a Latino staffer that the first question Arturo asked when he hired me was: ‘Is she cute?’ When I looked horrified, he clarified: ‘He asks that about all the women he hires!'”
Carmona, who oversaw the campaign’s Latino outreach division before becoming deputy political director, said in a statement that he categorically denied the claims and did not take them lightly.
Several prominent Sanders supporters — including former Nevada state legislator Lucy Flores and Erika Andiola, an immigration rights activist — came forward to back Mendieta’s claims as “true.”
“I have the responsibility to speak out because we HAVE to change the culture of sexism in this movement,” Andiola said in a Facebook post. “I am so done.”
Flores said Mendieta gave her the courage to speak up about what she had witnessed during her brief time working with Carmona.
“I feel like I should be pleased that this is happening to Arturo after making mine and others’ lives hell, leaving me with all of his disasters to clean up, acting dismissive of me and other women in demeaning and sexist ways, treating us as if we were there to serve him, among all his other personal and professional misbehaviors, but this doesn’t make me happy at all,” Flores wrote. “It makes me profoundly sad that because of the inherit sexism and misogyny in our society, that this guy is just allowed to move on, job to job, harassing and demeaning women, doing incompetent work and misusing funds, and never in a day worrying if anything he is doing is going to affect his future job prospects.”