Bernie Sanders Wired $200,000 in Campaign Money to Family Nonprofit

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
August 11, 2023Politicsshare
Bernie Sanders Wired $200,000 in Campaign Money to Family Nonprofit
Former Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (R) greet each other before they participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington, on March 15, 2020. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) principal campaign committee wired $200,000 to a nonprofit established by his family members, according to Federal disbursement filings.

Two $100,000 payments were transferred from the Friends of Bernie Sanders campaign coffers to the Sanders Institute in January and March of this year.

The senator’s wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, and his stepson, David Driscoll, established the Sanders Institute in 2017 as a think tank to promote progressive voices.

“The purpose is to revitalize democracy in the support of progressive institutions,” Ms. Sanders told The Washington Post at the time.

“A vital democracy requires an informed electorate, civil discourse, and bold thinking. So we put together this team to focus on issues,” she said. “We’ll have a lot of analysis, research, and op-eds. Hopefully, it’s going to increase the number of progressive voices in the mainstream media.”

Ms. Sanders said that neither she nor the 11 experts on the board of the Sanders Institute at the time of its launch would take salaries.

The Institute’s current board members are a small team of three: chair Meredith Rose Burak, a former executive at Merrill Lynch; actor and producer Danny Glover; and Chris Kantrowitz, an entrepreneur with a game-development background. The board is assisted by a team of three executives.

Notable fellows of the Sanders Institute include former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, author Naomi Klein, and activist Shaun King.

The think tank’s website is primarily a collection of links to books and articles published on other outlets by its fellows, completed with a report of “The Gathering,” a 2018 event for progressives attended by former New York mayor Bill DeBlasio and then Rep. Tulsi Gabbard among many others.

In 2019, the Sanders Institute temporarily suspended its operations while the Vermont senator vied for the presidency in 2020, “so there could not even be an appearance of impropriety,” Ms. Sanders told the Associated Press at the time.

The Sanders Institute has since resumed its operations.

According to its 2021 tax forms, 33 percent of the nonprofit’s income was spent on salaries with $153,000 going to its executive director.

Listed as the think-tank’s biggest expenditure for 2021 was the “Timeline Project,” described as a “policy-based resource” documenting the senator’s work over the last four decades. The project was intended to become “one of the key pilars [sic] of the website.”

“After researching many timelines, from presidential libraries to foundations to other organizations and not finding one as robust and complete as we would like, we designed our own wireframe and we are working with vendors to implement it,” the Institute stated in the tax filing.

“We are devoting a great deal of time researching documents, broadcast materials, photographs, and legislative records to provide the contents of the Timeline,” it said.

The project accounted for $160,000 of the organization’s budget in 2021. It is unclear when the Timeline Project will be completed and complete the Sanders Institute’s website.

NTD News asked for comment from Mr. Sanders and the Sanders Institute.

Mr. Sanders, who describes himself as a democratic socialist, was elected to the Senate in 2018. He will be up for reelection in 2024.

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