Questions raised about how at least three family members have benefited financially
By Michael Bielawski
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, hasn’t responded to Vermont Daily Chronicle questions about his campaign funneling $200,000 to his wife Jane Sanders’ nonprofit institute that also employs his stepson David Driscoll, with over $100,000 in annual compensation.
This is not the first time that the self-described democratic socialist has been in the spotlight for questionable financial decisions involving his family.
Regarding the latest incident, the nonprofit apparently offers few public records on its donors. “It is not fully apparent who has donated to the Sanders Institute based on its tax records,” states a Fox News report.
DC lawyer and conservative policy advocate Brady Toensing and others have chimed in on social media.
Toensing wrote on ‘X’ (formally Twitter), “Bernie Sanders funneled $200K in campaign cash to wife and stepson’s nonprofit institute. #BankfraudBernie hates capitalism, but loves $. #vtpoli The story reports the institute produced very little work despite all this salary to family.”
Ongoing for at least four years
According to a 2020 report by The Atlantic, Bernie and Jane Sanders have been directing cash, in one form or another, to his family for years.
“Sanders put his wife on the Burlington city payroll and made a company of hers, Progressive Media Strategies, a top recipient of campaign cash. His congressional reelection campaigns paid one of his stepdaughters more than $50,000 over four years; a nonprofit his wife started, the Sanders Institute, paid her son, David Driscoll, a $100,000 salary,” the report states.
Burlington College (RIP)
At Burlington College, where Jane Sanders worked as president, there were also financial concerns. When the school closed in 2016, the administration cited debt associated with a very large land purchase that she advocated for. A report from the Atlantic in 2016 detailed the problems.
“Many of the school’s financial difficulties date to Sanders’s tenure as president. … In announcing the closure, the school blamed the ‘crushing weight of the debt’ from the purchase of a new campus in 2010, during Sanders’s tenure. Burlington said its bank had pulled the school’s line of credit.”
She was president of the college from 2004 until 2011 when she exited with a $200,000 severance pay. Andy Ostrey writing for the Huffington Post in 2016 wrote:
“A man who has no problem with his wife accepting a $200,000 Wall Street-ish golden parachute as he demonizes the very same industry for engaging in the very same practices that serve to create the very same income and wealth inequality he’s made the cornerstone of his revolution?” Ostrey wrote. “The goose and the gander come to mind here.”
There was another questionable deal regarding Jane Sanders’ time at the school. This time, according to Carol Moore who was the last president of the college, it involved a “sweetheart deal” involving Driscoll’s Vermont Woodworking School in Franklin County where Burlington College students took courses. The school was founded by Carina Driscoll, her stepdaughter.
Moore told VtDigger in 2017 that the woodworking school was “gouging the college” for resources.
Made money bashing capitalism
In another report by Fox News from in May details how Sanders has made a lot of money from attacking the very economic system that he’s profited greatly from, including he pulled in a hefty sum by selling an anti-capitalism themed book.
“The latest round of financial disclosure forms from the Vermont senator, first reported by Business Insider and obtained by Fox News Digital, show $170,000 in royalties last year from Penguin Random House for his book “It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism,” it states.
It didn’t help the controversy that Sanders promoted an event to help publicize the book which cost nearly $100 a seat to attend. Furthermore, the tickets were being sold via Ticketmaster, a company that’s been under criticism at times for suspect business practices of their own.
Sanders’ tax records scrutinized
TheHill.com did a report in 2019 titled “Bernie Sanders is hypocritical on most significant campaign issues.” The writer Mandy Gunasekara notes the irony that capitalism’s most vocal critic is a major beneficiary. She focused on his tax records.
“If Sanders were the authentic socialist he believes himself to be, he would have divvied up his wealth and given it to those most in need, or in the very least paid a 43 percent tax rate consistent with his own tax plan for those making over $500,000,” the report states.
Former President Trump has also called out Sanders over his tax records. Trump noted that Sanders seemed to have benefited greatly from the tax cuts that he advocated for.
“Bernie Sanders and wife should pay the Pre-Trump Taxes on their almost $600,000 in income,” Trump wrote. “He is always complaining about these big TAX CUTS, except when it benefits him. They made a fortune off of Trump.”
The author is a reporter for Vermont Daily Chronicle