AIDS activists blast Sanders, say he “used and abused” them by lying about meeting

AIDS activists are publicly excoriating Bernie Sanders after the Democratic presidential candidate outright lied about his oft-postponed meeting with HIV/AIDS leaders yesterday.

Sanders had agreed to the meeting a while ago, then abruptly canceled; incurring the wrath of AIDS activists after refusing to reschedule. The criticism apparently grew to be too much and Sanders was forced to relent and hold the meeting.

The latest eruption occurred after Sanders left the meeting and issued a press release claiming the activists joined him in supporting a controversial California drug initiative that the activists strongly oppose, and they’d indicated as much to Sanders.

Just as oddly, Sanders hadn’t even brought up the initiative at the meeting with the activists — it was they who raised the issue with him. Yet Sanders is now claiming that the meeting was set to discuss the initiative, and that the activists agreed with him, when they most certainly do not.

Veteran advocate Peter Staley weighed in on Facebook this afternoon:

by default 2016-05-26 at 4.23.42 PM

Here’s the text of what Peter wrote:

Feeling used and abused by the Sanders campaign right now. They just issued a press release making it sound like our meeting was about his endorsement of AHF’s drug pricing ballot initiative in CA. Senator Sanders never brought the issue up during our meeting. WE brought it up near the end, only to tell him that we had been flooded with messages from all the leading AIDS organizations in CA with deep concerns about AHF’s initiative — they are worried it could actually negatively impact access to AIDS drugs. Those groups have tried to reach the campaign with these concerns but had hit a brick wall. We asked Sanders to designate someone in his campaign to talk with these groups, and he agreed to this. WE DID NOT ENDORSE AHF’S INITIATIVE. His campaign should not have issued a press release implying this was a major topic of discussion at the meeting, and that there was general agreement on the Senator’s position on this. Anything but.

It’s a complicated issue that John Weir gets into in detail here. But what isn’t complicated is that a group of America’s top HIV activists sat down with Bernie Sanders and told him unequivocally that they opposed this initiative. Sanders turned around and lied about them, and their alleged support for this initiative, ostensibly to endear himself to key organizations in California that can help him in the upcoming primary race in that state.

The thing is, the activists left the meeting pleased with Sanders, thinking things had gone well. Here’s Peter Staley:

We were all set to spin this meeting quite positively, but this press release is very misleading. Please see my post from last night — there were no attacks against the Senator in my first post on the meeting. We’ll still be reporting some of the positive stuff that came out of it. But his press team really scr*wed us.

It’s bad enough that Sanders blew off the AIDS community last month, and that up until a month or so ago Sanders didn’t even mention AIDS on the rather-short-on-substance LGBT page on his campaign site (the page was only beef upped after I publicly complained about its paucity).  But for Sanders to take a community that’s already ticked at him, that he’s already dissed, and then use his meeting with them to curry favor with key political allies in a primary state is the height of the very Machiavellian politics that Sanders claims to eschew.

Silence = Death. And lies don’t help much either.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis  — Win a pony! (not really)

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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68 Responses to “AIDS activists blast Sanders, say he “used and abused” them by lying about meeting”

  1. Deaf258 says:

    Link to that source please? I would LOVE to know!

  2. Christinadina says:

    maybe i missed something, but the tone of this article sounds like someone from FOX wrote it – where in Sanders’ press release did he claim the group joined him in his support of this initiative? his release covers several items, and Staley himself said there were a number of things discussed at the meeting. it’s not even logical to expect Sanders would say “we talked about a bunch of things, and here’s where we disagreed.” this seems to have started as a big reaction about nothing, which now has escalated into a full on skirmish!

  3. Wayne White says:

    You’re a Bernie supporter for sure. Denigrate anyone who disagrees with you, use sophomoric nicknames like “Billo” for people, and even display the ignorance of saying Obama has done nothing of great significance. Wanna discuss Bernie’s campaign finance violations, his chartered flight to Rome for a “non political” event which he then politicized and paid for with campaign funds, and the investigation into Jane committing Bank Fraud on the loan applications that eventually bankrupted Burlington College as well as indications that Bernie used his influence to help her get those loans? Nah, I didn’t think so.

  4. Dodgson says:

    Will the reeducation camp include a forced viewing of endless asinine facebook links to articles that argue that Hillary = Trump? Because if so can you just kill me now instead?

  5. Margaretjbaylis says:

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  7. Tom Mullen says:

    Good piece. Of course when posted to my FB page, Bernie supporters claimed John Aravosis is in HRC’s pocket. Any truth to that John?

  8. LinGin says:


  9. Herman Christ says:

    how DARE somebody speak ill of Dear Leader Bernard!? The culprit should be beaten within an inch of their life and then sent to a reeducation camp so they can learn the true wonder and majesty that is Bernie Sanders!

  10. Toussant Foster says:

    Of course, anything negative about Bernie must automatically be a Clinton conspiracy. Heaven forbid he be capable of doing anything wrong.

  11. zmayhem says:

    Bernie Sanders is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.

  12. KimKisapig says:

    Truth hurt?

  13. Phil in FLL says:

    OK, I’ll withhold comment until Bernie—the candidate himself—has his say. I too am interested in the issues that Bernie has brought to the fore this year. I’m very curious to see what he has to say after the last primaries are over. Many polls have shown that 80% of Bernie supporters intend to vote for Hillary and 20% do not, although that 80% may go up in 2016 as it did for Obama in 2008.

    But regarding your criticism above, you’d think that the 20% of Bernie supporters who won’t vote for Hillary would likewise be represented by about 20% of the Bernie supporters on the Americablog comment pages. Wrong! Which leads us to conclude that, instead of being representative of Bernie supporters, the “anyone but Hillary (Trump is OK)” commenters on Americablog just have big mouths and are adept at name-calling. 20% in real life should equal 20% on comment pages, but it doesn’t.

  14. 2karmanot says:

    Thanks for pointing that out! …haven’t a clue why that happened.

  15. Phil in FLL says:

    I don’t think Bernie has specifically criticized black voters, but he has continually slammed Democrats in the southern states, who are, of course, overwhelmingly black. Does Bernie think that the votes of Democrats in the Southern primaries should be counted as 3/5 of a vote rather than a whole vote? Here’s an interesting article from “The Daily Beast”:

  16. Phil in FLL says:

    Regarding the “like” from karmanot, please see my reply to karmanot above.

  17. pliny says:

    No lies here, just pointing out that making stupid statements on AIDS is something that seems to be going around this season.

  18. Phil in FLL says:

    Bern for Trump? (The comment from Amwatching2c that you “liked.”) Thank you for your candor. A bit neo-fascist, no?

  19. 2karmanot says:

    Yawn….more AB BS propaganda….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  20. NGC says:

    Hillary trolls are at it again spreading lies.

  21. Bill_Perdue says:

    The record is clear, HRH HRC is a long time bigot, and he last minute rebranding has no weight.

  22. Amwatching2c says:

    Bern for Trump

  23. stupidicus says:

    well, as Lincoln said (I think) you’re lucky if you can please part of the people part of the time.

    And if your endless BS here on this “blog” is any indication, BS couldn’t please you if he was an AIDS victim himself.

    SO you just cling to the skirt of the Sally come lately Hillary of Arc, no?

    ANybody that would let an incident like this become more important than all the qualities on full display in his record past and present on such issues has personal issues they should be concentrating on.

  24. DonnaKuykendallStebbins says:

    Seriously? You use his very white, very progressive state, that doesn’t really allow anyone to run against him, as an example of his character? Did you not just read what he did here?

  25. Gerard L. says:

    What do AIDs activists have to say about a Family Foundation that patted itself on the back while distributing “fake” retro-viral drugs to “black” people thought Africa. The Clinton Family providing ‘fake” drugs is far worse than doing nothing at all.

  26. timncguy says:

    oops, looks like Samantha tried to pull one over on someone who was actually there in the trenches.

  27. BushCheney2016forMerica says:

    Berni says “black” votes shouldn’t count as much as his voters since they voted for Clinton

  28. BushCheney2016forMerica says:

    F saint Bernie.

  29. Blogvader says:

    I suppose it’s possible that she disagreed with Bill, but she’s made her positions very clear in her policy statements over the years. She opposed same-sex marriage for at least a decade before flip-flopping in 2013.

    As for DADT, she’s defended it just as Bill did. (The very, very weak “we had no other choice!” defense.) The problem with that is, if we look at Harry Truman’s presidency (ie, Executive Order 9981), we know full well that the Clintons had the power to integrate the military but lacked the courage.

  30. Peggy James says:

    Senator Sanders has all the qualities of a true leader including fairness, kindness, honesty, humility, energy, authenticity, intelligence, experience, and he is passionate about helping every child succeed in this nation, thus building a stronger and brighter USA for future generations. Bernie Sanders received 86% of the vote in his home state which speaks volumes about his character. Vote smart! Vote Bernie. His long record in public service can be found on you tube. To help pass out fliers, make calls, or donate please go to

  31. Bill Haffey says:

    He does NOT discuss these issues on the stump. And now you are joining his in telling lies about his campaign.
    I get my news from several different sources from Mother Jones, the Guardian, Huffington Post, BBC America, and many others. Unlike you, I am not satisfied with the propaganda from the Sanders campaign.
    Now isn’t it time for you to start trolling someone else, you don’t want to cut into your income from the Sanders Tea Party.

  32. Samantha Blackmare says:

    You do get your news from Joy Reid!

    I was talking about what he discusses during his campaign, on a regular basis. I’m not sure why you’re saying he doesn’t talk about issues he does talk about.

  33. Bill Haffey says:

    He was horrible on AIDS when he was Mayor. That I can tell you from personal history. As the New England Coordinator of the United Church AIDS Network, and the AIDS National Interfaith Network, I tried to work with his administration. I personally had to find housing for PLWAs who had been thrown out of their homes because of their status because of the refusal of the city administration to pass non-discrimination laws. Do not even try to make excuses for him.
    I have never forgiven him for leaving those men to die on the street for all he was concerned.

  34. Bill Haffey says:

    Really, when did she vote for them? How did she vote for them? In 1994, when Bernie voted in favor of a total ban on LGBT folk in the military, the only alternative to DADT, Hillary was First Lady, which is not a policy making position.
    In 1996, when Bernie voted against DOMA based on his support of state’s rights, not same gender marriage, according to his office, Hillary was still First Lady, still not a policy making position. At that time, Bernie’s office also said that if people supported same gender marriage they would have to pass a constitutional amendment to get it. He then went on to oppose marriage equality both times it was considered in VT,
    That is what archives are for.
    So take your lies, and propaganda to someone foolish enough to believe it, and dumb enough to not do their own research.

  35. Samantha Blackmare says:

    He was good on those issues as mayor.

    I refer to Kissinger as shorthand to indicate my disagreement with her foreign policy as SoS. I also find her willingness to compromise with Republicans on late term abortions to be frightening. It’s one issue I didn’t expect her to flip flop on.

  36. Bill Haffey says:

    He has mentioned HB2, the other issues are not a part of his campaign. There are several lies about his actions on them, but he has done NOTHING on them. Bernie will lie about anything,
    How do you explain his canceling the meeting in April? How do you explain his requirement that in order to meet with him to discuss this topic you have to have supported his campaign financially?.
    How do you explain the fact that while Bernie claims to be a long time supporter of marriage equality he did not make a public statement supporting it until 2010.
    It is time that you stop buying the propaganda and start looking at the truth.

  37. Samantha Blackmare says:

    That’s what archives are for. She supported both.

  38. Samantha Blackmare says:

    “And his support” it says. It does not even remotely suggest that those he met with do. NNU does as does AHF, no idea about others.

    So typical Aravosis follows typical Morning Joy, one of the most ironic names for a show I’ve heard.

  39. Bill Haffey says:

    You might want to check the calendar. Hillary was not in congress when either one of those bills were voted on, so you do not know what she thought.

  40. Bill Haffey says:

    I am talking about the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who fought for LGBT rights worldwide, and fighting AIDS while the grumpy old man from VT sat in the Senate and did nothing to fight AIDS/HIV or fight for LGBT rights.
    As much as you might want to lie about it, Hillary has a much better record that Bernie on these and others issues.
    You might also want to check what politifact and other fact checkers have to say about Bernie’s lies verses Hillary’s truthfulness. Let me give you a hint, Bernie does not come out of the good end of the comparison.

  41. Samantha Blackmare says:

    You mean the woman who was mentored by Henry Kissinger? So much “experience.”

  42. Samantha Blackmare says:

    She agreed to four debates, three of which they had. The 4th was for May in CA.

  43. Samantha Blackmare says:

    LOL. He mentions all those issues. What do you do, get your news from Joy Reid?

  44. Samantha Blackmare says:

    He is the ONLY pro-choice candidate, since HRC is now “open to” federal regulations on late-term abortions, which of course are performed when there is something wrong with the pregnancy.

  45. Don Chandler says:

    manufactured scandal. (faux news)

    –U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday met with national HIV/AIDS advocates to discuss the epidemic and his support for a California ballot initiative to lower prices for taxpayer-supported AIDS treatments.

    So he is against the ‘Shkreli’ predatory trend.

  46. Bill Haffey says:

    You mean the candidate who lead world leaders in attacking the AIDS/HIV crisis! Check the record before you join Bernie in the lie game.

  47. Bill Haffey says:

    You do know that politifact and other fact checkers all agree that in the democrat race the more truthful candidate is Hillary.

  48. Bill Haffey says:

    Really? How do you explain the FACT that a meeting like this was arraigned with before the NY primary, however, Bernie canceled it a few days before the meeting but after the activist had bought expensive non-refundable plane tickets. And before that Bernie had demanded that only AIDS activists who supported his campaign could attend the meeting. How about the FACT that Bernie has said NOTHING about AIDS/HIV during his campaign, as well as making only one comment about HB2, no comment about the MS bathroom bill, no comment about the “religious freedom” bills, and lied about his history on marriage equality.
    You may not like it, but Bernie has a horrible record this campaign on LGBT issues and AIDS/HIV issues. He also has said nothing to support transgender folk as they face the rising number of murders in their community.

  49. quax says:

    The boy who cried wolf effect.

    But there isn’t much spin in this article and there is a major disconnect.

  50. KimKisapig says:

    And the Bernie/Trumpbots will blame Hillary for this in 1…2…3…

  51. KimKisapig says:

    Can you do math? Idiot.

  52. Emi says:

    Yeah , I figured as much. John Arvosis just getting huffy puffy when no one responds when he snaps his gay fingers. John did you screech like Hillary. That would have made her proud.

  53. lageorgia says:

    Bernie has a major lack of interest in AIDS, LGBT, or women’s issues. Everything for him comes down to breaking up the big banks which sounds good but he admits he has no clue just how to do it. He has spent his whole life bloviating nonsense and really getting nothing done.

  54. TheAngryFag says:

    Yup. And IIRC, John decried the practice when Kerry was running

  55. John Smith says:

    Great analysis of what transpired. Bernie couldn’t care less about AIDS or LGBT or abortion, to him our issues our just a distraction. If the answer ain’t Wall Street, he can’t hear the question.

  56. John Smith says:

    Back out? She never agreed. Another Bernie lie. Just like this one. Desperate candidate and even more desperate supporters.

  57. Blogvader says:

    Swift boating works, TAF.

  58. emjayay says:

    Because it wasn’t a thing, and she won already?

  59. Carla Swartz says:

    Better title would be…. Pro-Hillary Aids Activist does his best to derail Sanders campaign with the LGBT community. Scroll a little further past his complaint post and you will see nothing but pro HRC posts.

  60. Ron Marek says:

    Holy gee!! Imagine that another Hillary zombie… Why did She back out of a debate with Bernie?

  61. Blogvader says:

    Or the candidate who supported DOMA and DADT.

  62. TheAngryFag says:

    Another Bernie Hit Piece from HillBot John…

  63. pliny says:

    This… Is an actual problem. Let’s see what the response is though before we declare Sanders to be worse on AIDS than the candidate who thinks we should follow Nancy Reagan’s example.

  64. 2karmanot says:


  65. JKingle says:

    He’s in meltdown and his team is desperately trying anything/everything they can to stay in the news. They’ve ruined him instead of training and mobilizing the young voters who flocked to his doorstep. Huge mistake. This could have been the biggest youth turnout in history, which in turn could have inspired the country to elect him. Instead we have a bunch of angry people making stuff up because they think they’re smart and who spend all their time shooting at Hillary instead of touting Bernie. What a sad mess.

  66. outdoorplaces says:

    Here you go. Took 10 seconds looking on Sanders website.

    …U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday met with national HIV/AIDS
    advocates to discuss the epidemic and his support for a California
    ballot initiative to lower prices for taxpayer-supported AIDS

    Based on reports from the other side of this meeting, the second part of the first sentence is completely false.

  67. Frank Iuro says:

    No link to the ACTUAL Press Release?!?

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