Bernie Sanders’ campaign is over. Hillary Clinton has secured the required number of primary delegates to become the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee, and Bernie (while swearing to take the fight to the convention) has also cut his campaign staff down to next to nothing and is back on the Senate floor doing the job Vermont elected him to do.
Despite all of these recent changes to his political life, however, Bernie Sanders is still being protected by the Secret Service, and as CNN reports, taxpayers are footing the bill.
In fact, U.S. taxpayers are paying for Bernie Sanders’ Secret Service detail to the tune of about $40,000 per day, a bill that adds up over the course of a candidate’s presidential campaign. For Bernie Sanders alone, the American taxpayers have shelled out over a half a million dollars since the final Democratic primary on June 14; that’s when Bernie Sanders effectively lost his bid for the White House.
If Bernie Sanders decides to make good on his vow to continue his presidential campaign all the way to the Philadelphia Democratic National Convention, U.S. taxpayers will be on the hook for a total of almost $2 million in Secret Service costs (cumulative since the last primary) for a candidate that has already lost the nomination and has almost no chance of stealing the delegates from his competition that he would need to move on to the general election.
Bernie Sanders himself has already said publicly that he will back Hillary Clinton in November and that his most important goal (and the most important collective goal of the Democratic party) is to ensure that Donald Trump doesn’t win the U.S. presidency.
Federal officials admit that it’s next to impossible to calculate the precise actual cost of protecting Bernie Sanders, the former Democratic presidential contender, since many of the agents guarding his body are also working on other details as well. However, it is agreed that the amount of money that U.S. taxpayers have spent to provide Bernie Sanders with Secret Service protection is definitely much higher now than it was when he lost the Democratic nomination. That happened way back on June 7 (almost a month ago) reports CNN; that was when Clinton won California and secured the 2,383 delegates required to secure the Democratic presidential nomination.
Still, because Bernie Sanders refuses to concede that he’s lost the race, he is still entitled to (expensive) Secret Service protection as a presidential candidate.
When he was asked by CNN last week about the cost of Secret Service protection and whether or not the U.S. taxpayers should still be paying for security for a candidate who’s effectively already out of the race, Senator Bernie Sanders dodged the inquiry.
“I think security is probably something we shouldn’t be talking about too much.”
While Bernie Sanders refuses to talk about the moral and ethical issues of utilizing taxpayer-funded Secret Service protection now that his campaign is dead in the water, Sanders’ fellow senators aren’t as shy about voicing their opinions. Many reportedly spoke to CNN off the record, with several saying that they were shocked to see Sanders still flanked by Secret Service while on Capitol Hill.
“Bernie’s on an ego kick.”
In addition to the excessive cost U.S. taxpayers have incurred in order to provide Secret Service protection to Bernie Sanders, there are some practical challenges being faced by the government in providing the security to three presidential candidates this close to the upcoming conventions. Reportedly, Secret Service agents are stretched pretty thin in preparation for the upcoming conventions.
A Bernie Sanders spokesman refused to answer questions regarding why Sanders has declined to give up his Secret Service protection, which is 24/7 personal security in D.C., at his home in Vermont and/or anywhere else Bernie may choose to go now that his presidential campaign is effectively over.
Ron Johnson has a few words about the situation. The Wisconsin senator is also chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
“At some point in time, hopefully Senator Sanders will realize he’s not going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party and Secret Service protection can be removed.”
When asked whether or not utilizing taxpayer money to protect a now-defunct presidential candidate was a “wise” use of resources, Senator Johnson declined to answer, rather deflecting the question to Bernie Sanders himself.
At least one Secret Service member seems to agree with Senator Johnson, and speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed a bit of incredulity about the situation regarding Bernie Sanders’ continued Secret Service protection.
“We protect candidates and I don’t really think he can be defined as a candidate at this point.”
What do you think? Is it appropriate for Senator Sanders to remain in under Secret Service protection now that he’s lost the Democratic primary? Should Bernie Sanders drop out of the Democratic race now to spare U.S. taxpayers the added cost of providing him with Secret Service security between now and the DNC?
[Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images]