According to the Twitterverse, if elected in the November general election, Bernie Sanders would be the first non-millionaire president since Harry Truman in 1945.
But is that accurate?
The self-described socialist and income inequality crusader who is running for president as a Democrat, career politician Sanders has among other things railed against corporate greed and a rigged system, blasted the rich for failing to pay their fair share of taxes, and has also criticized presidential rival Hillary Clinton for her extensive financial ties to Wall Street fat-cats.
“Clinton made $3.15 million in 2013 alone from speaking to firms like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and UBS, according to the list her campaign released of her speaking fees,” CNN reported.
— Bern Press (@BernPress) January 18, 2016
These deep corporate connections, which in part made her a multimillionaire, may be one of the main reasons why Sanders won big last night against the former Obama Secretary of State in the New Hampshire Democrat primary.
New York businessman Donald Trump easily won the Republican primary over numerous challengers.
Although Sanders appears to have a modest personal lifestyle, one pundit suggests that he may be a millionaire and one-percenter after all.
— Sam Adams (@Teapublicanways) January 23, 2016
In an analysis, political consultant and Sanders foe James O’Brien, formerly publisher of Campaigns and Elections, insists that the senator’s required financial disclosure information may be incomplete and that he allegedly puts most of his assets in his wife Jane’s name.
“I’m going to conservatively estimate Bernie and Jane’s income at $290,000 annually. Between mutual fund investments and minimum real estate values Feel the Bern is Feelin’ the Wealth between $344,026 and $1,091,030. And there is no way his DC residence is worth a maximum of $100,000. You pay that for a parking space now in downtown DC. And subtracting his listed debt of $25,000 to $65,000, I still find no way the man isn’t worth over $1 million. I would estimate a true fair range is a $1.2 to $1.5 million net worth for Senator Bernie Sanders. For someone who doesn’t care about money, he goes a long way to cover up his true net worth.”
O’Brien also claims that Sanders is the beneficiary of a “multi-million-dollar” staff at the U.S. Senate and on the campaign trail for president.
Separately, the MSNBC website suggests that Sanders may have been comfortable in socializing with political insiders and lobbyists for the one percent, including those representing Wall Street interests.
“During his 10 years on the Senate, Bernie Sanders has been a regular presence at luxurious Democratic fundraising retreats, according to more than a half-dozen lobbyists, donors and former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee staff members with whom he attended the events. Sanders most recently appeared at one last July, shortly after he announced his presidential run…Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver brushed off the candidate’s presence at the retreats, noting that guests did not only include financial services industry lobbyists, but also representatives of organized [labor] and other progressive constituency groups.”
According to a September 2014 report in Vermont Watchdog, Jane Sanders received a $200,000 golden parachute following her resignation as president of Burlington College. “The executive pay amounted to nearly four times the average annual household income in Vermont,” a Republican activist claimed in a TV commercial about the severance check.
There appears to be some controversy over Mrs. Sanders’ tenure at the college, which is subject to a detailed complaint submitted by a Washington, D.C., lawyer to the U.S. Attorney for Vermont. A Sanders spokesman dismissed the complaint as political mudslinging “recycled discredited garbage” from a Republican operative, the Burlington Free Press reported.
With regard to the above allegations, the Daily Caller News Foundation claims that it obtained documents that “indicate that the wife of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders may have been able to use her clout to get away with loan fraud, nearly bankrupting the small college she was president of and collecting a sizable severance package in the process.”
“Jane Sanders resigned from Burlington College in 2011 under pressure from the board of trustees. She later described the incident as a difference of leadership styles. The college has struggled financially and has sold much of its campus to a developer,” the Free Press added.
Against the backdrop of the Bernie Sanders free college for all plan, Politico has more detail on the Burlington College scenario.
“When Jane Sanders was in charge of a small private college in Vermont for seven years, it sank deep into debt while trying to expand its campus. Many students took out tens of thousands of dollars in loans to attend, but their investment was questionable: Only a third of former Burlington College students earn more than the average person with a high school diploma…”
“Jane Sanders, who led Burlington College from 2004 to 2011, spent millions on a new campus — 33 acres along the bank of Lake Champlain — to attract more students and donations from alumni. It didn’t work: The college failed to recruit enough students or donations to repay its debts and even came close to losing its accreditation.
Bernie Sanders met with civil rights activist Al Sharpton today in Harlem, apparently seeking his endorsement as the primary campaign moves forward. In November 2014, the New York Times reported that Sharpton owed $4.5 million in unpaid federal and state taxes.
“Never in the history of civilization has a major communist or socialist leader actually practiced the life of frugality they want to force on the rest of us,” Truth Revolt argued.
Do you think that Bernie Sanders is a one-percenter?
[Photo by J. David Ake/AP]