Updated on March 25 at 6:11 p.m. ET.
Shortly before he gave speeches launching his 2020 campaign earlier this month, Bernie Sanders emailed his supporters, urging them to “do our very best to engage respectfully with our Democratic opponents—talking about the issues we are fighting for, not about personalities or past grievances. I want to be clear that I condemn bullying and harassment of any kind and in any space.”
What he didn’t include was that one of the people already advising him and helping him write those launch speeches is one of his most famously aggressive supporters online.
Since December, David Sirota has, on Twitter, on the website Capital & Main, and in columns in The Guardian, been trashing most of Sanders’s Democratic opponents—all without disclosing his work with Sanders—and has been pushing back on critics by saying that he was criticizing the other Democrats as a journalist.* He centered many of his attacks on Beto O’Rourke, but he also bashed Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Joe Biden, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper, Mike Bloomberg, and even Andrew Cuomo.
On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for The Guardian, Deepal Patadia, said that Sirota informed the newspaper that he was in conversations with the Sanders team starting in January, and did not file a column forward from that point. Patadia did not address if this account was based on anything other than Sirota’s characterizations, and whether The Guardian was aware of conversations that Sirota was having with Sanders aides through 2018, as people with direct knowledge say he was. Sirota himself would not address this on the record.