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The Center For American Progress' Board Says It Has “Full Confidence” In Neera Tanden's Leadership

The liberal think tank is also hiring an outside "evaluator" to examine its policies and investigate how the organization handled reports of sexual harassment and retaliation first reported by BuzzFeed News.

Last updated on April 27, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. ET

Posted on April 27, 2018, at 2:19 p.m. ET

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The Center for American Progress' Board of Directors — including former Sen. Tom Daschle and the organization's founder John Podesta — say they stand behind current CAP President Neera Tanden following BuzzFeed News’ reporting on allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation at the organization in 2016, and staff concerns about her leadership in the wake of that story.

In an email on Friday, Podesta, the former Clinton campaign chair who still serves as a member of CAP’s board of directors, told BuzzFeed News that he believes that Tanden and other officials at CAP “have recently taken appropriate steps to strengthen the systems at CAP to ensure a safe and inclusive workplace,” adding that Tanden “has my full confidence and the confidence of the Board.”

Daschle told BuzzFeed News that Tanden had been in touch with him and all board members personally to discuss the issue since BuzzFeed reported on the allegations on Monday night. "She has our full confidence. CAP leadership has taken this matter very seriously," he said.

Daschle added that CAP is hiring an outside "evaluator" who will "examine {CAP's] actions and practices around this incident and its aftermath as well as ensure that its sexual harassment policies and procedures are as strong as they can possibly be. The evaluator will also examine past practices and inform us of any ways that we can improve our current policies to establish the highest standards and a proactive program to certify that incidents like this never occur in the future."

Another board member, Tom Steyer, the billionaire Democratic donor, was less specific when asked for comment on BuzzFeed News’ reporting and whether he has confidence in Tanden’s leadership at CAP.

“This week, we learned that an employee of the Center for American Progress had been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual abuse is a systemic problem that affects every community, and is never excusable. As progressives, we must be leaders in ensuring that each and every person feels safe from harassment and harm at home, at school, or in the workplace,” Steyer said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “I am confident that the board and management at CAP are committed to ensuring proper policies are in place so that employees at CAP are protected.”

On Wednesday, Tanden held an all-staff meeting about BuzzFeed News’ reporting, in which she twice named the anonymous victim at the center of that story. A CAP spokesperson said at the time that Tanden had unintentionally named the woman — whom BuzzFeed News had identified as Mary, a part of her formal name — and apologized.

But following that meeting, four staffers who were present told BuzzFeed News that CAP employees were largely disappointed in Tanden’s handling of the situation. ThinkProgress, an editorially independent publication that is under the umbrella of CAP’s sister organization CAP Action, reported on similar grievances from staff after the meeting.

“Neera lost the organization today. … She outed the victim and the subtext of every question was a lack of confidence in her leadership and ability to create trust within the organization,” one staffer told BuzzFeed News after the meeting concluded.

Another said: “As a manager I don't know how I can tell staff to trust the system when the head of the organization just outed the victim in front of the entire organization. It is impossible to trust her.”

Tanden told staff at Wednesday’s meeting that CAP is working with its employee union on setting up sexual harassment trainings for employees. CAP has not had a sexual harassment training since Benton Strong, a former employee who was twice reported to HR for sexual harassment, left the organization in July 2016.

UPDATE

This story was updated with a statement from former Sen. Tom Daschle, the chairman of CAP's Board of Directors.

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