WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sander’s latest addition to his 2020 presidential campaign is drawing criticism after a report detailed the new staffer, an investigative reporter, had been secretly advising the campaign while bashing other Democrats running for the White House.
The report in The Atlantic notes David Sirota, an investigative reporter focused on politics and money, had been working for Sanders’ campaign for months before his role was officially announced on Tuesday.
Sirota was brought on as a speechwriter and senior adviser but had been working in the role since December, according to The Atlantic. The publication noted during the months helping Sanders’ campaign, Sirota blasted other Democrats vying for the White House.
After being contacted by The Atlantic, more than 20,000 of Sirota’s tweets were deleted. Several recent tweets to his account, which has about 125,000 followers, berated Sen. Kamala Harris for “retreating for Medicare for All” and said Sen. Cory Booker had “attacked the Obama campaign & voted with the GOP” on a bill regarding the price of medicine. Both are also running for president.
The Atlantic also pointed out Sirota, who worked for Sanders years ago when Sanders was a member of the House, authored several pieces in The Guardian that were critical of Beto O’Rourke, who had not yet entered the presidential race. The pieces did not note that he was working with Sanders’ campaign.
One of the pieces examined votes taken by O’Rourke when he served in Congress, finding that O’Rourke, who entered the race last week, had frequently voted in support for Republican-led legislation. A second piece was an opinion column titled “Beto O’Rourke is the new Obama. And that’s the last thing we need.”
“Now, he is Washington’s version of Elvis Presley on Ed Sullivan, only the screaming teeny-boppers are Beltway politicos: one rainmaker touted him as ‘Obama, but white,’ a Wall Street-funded group called Third Way declared that ‘we are big Beto fans’ and a former Obama aide penned an entire love letter touting O’Rourke 2020, without even once mentioning where the Texas congressman stands on a single legislative issue,” the piece reads.
Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, told The Atlantic that Sirota had been helping the campaign in an advisory role before being brought on officially on Tuesday. Shakir said it was a trial period to try out Sirota since Sanders prefers to write his own speeches.
Sirota told The Atlantic that his Twitter purge was the result of an “autodeleter that periodically and automatically deletes tweets.” He said he started “doing this many months ago.”
On Facebook, Sirota told his nearly 10,000 followers that he was taking a role within Sanders’ campaign and said it was an opportunity he could not pass up.
“I believe journalism is an extremely important and necessary line of work, and I will miss it (and one day in the future, it is possible I may return to it),” Sirota wrote on Facebook. “When Bernie asked me to join his campaign, I felt I could not turn that request down, because I genuinely believe that the future of our country, our planet and our children are at stake in this election.”