Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Bernie Sanders Funneled at Least $275K from Campaign into Wife’s Defunct Nonprofit

'Obviously, a senator is not allowed to use his campaign to simply transfer large sums of money to family members—regardless of the route the dollars take...'

(Headline USA) Newly released financial records showed that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., funneled another $75,000 from his campaign funds into his wife’s and stepson’s nonprofit organization, on top of a previously revealed $200,000.

Fox News reported that Sanders has been using money from his political campaign to fund the Sanders Institute, despite the fact that the thinktank has been dormant for the past several years. 

Its website consists mostly of links to articles on other outlets, and its latest publicly available tax forms from 2021 show that 40% of its contributions went to salaries.

The Sanders Institute was established six years ago by Sanders’s wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, and his stepson, David Driscoll, who was reported to be earning a six-figure salary from the thinktank.

Sanders’s wife was both not only the co-founder but also one of its most recent fellowship grantees, in addition to doling out fellowships to radical left-wing lawmakers like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.

The institute’s mission was to “revitalize democracy by actively engaging individuals, organizations and the media in the pursuit of progressive solutions to economic, environmental, racial and social justice issues,” according to its website.

However, it reportedly shut down in 2019, the Associated Press reported, while facing criticism even then that it had “blurred the lines between family, fundraising and campaigning.”

Although the Sanders Institute has barely pursued or advocated for progressive policies since its launch, filings from the Federal Election Commission show that Sanders sent another check to the organization on Aug. 8, on top of the $200,000 his campaign sent to the nonprofit earlier this year.

“The facts present in this case and the family ties involved certainly raise legitimate concern,” Kendra Arnold, executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, told Fox News. “Obviously, a senator is not allowed to use his campaign to simply transfer large sums of money to family membersregardless of the route the dollars take.”

Arnold argued Sanders’s contributions to the thinktank could be a “serious campaign finance violation” if the institute cannot prove what it did to earn the money. 

“In other words, if the nonprofit and its executive director are truly producing work and actually earning the money, it is not illegal, but it is frowned upon,” she said. “On the other hand, if nothing or very little is being done to earn the money legitimately, then it is highly likely a serious campaign finance violation has taken place.”

As part of his 2020 book Profiles in Corruption investigative journalist Peter Schweizer detailed several other shady financial schemes that the Sanders family had undertaken, which began very quickly from the time he first entered into politics.

When he first became the mayor of Burlington, Vt., in 1988, for instance, he appointed his wife to several influential positions and offered her a big pay raise—over the objections of the city council.

“Bernie ignored them, and that began this pattern of sort of steering money—taxpayer money and campaign money—to his family,” Schweizer said in a February 2020 interview promoting the book on Fox News.

Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.

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