Bernie Sanders is striking back at critics after reporting that his best-selling book has made him a millionaire, defending his newfound wealth and saying it changes nothing about his approach to bringing economic equality.
Sanders has faced pressure to release tax returns, which he had pledged to do during the 2016 campaign but never did in full. This week, Sanders announced that he would be putting out the tax releases in the next week and also said that he is now a millionaire, thanks to sales from his best-selling book Our Revolution, which was released in November 2016. Sanders wrote another book published last year that laid out the foundation for his current presidential run.
As CNN noted, the announcement drew some criticism of Sanders, who railed against millionaires and billionaires who do not pay their fair share of taxes. However, Sanders pushed back at a campaign stop this week.
“I didn’t know that it was a crime to write a good book which turns out to be a bestseller,” the Vermont senator said at a campaign stop in Indiana.
Sanders said he continues to push for tax reform that would take pressure off the middle class and ask those who benefited from the system to gain significant wealth to pay a larger share.
“My view has always been that we need a progressive tax system which demands that the wealthiest people in this country finally start paying their fair share of taxes. If I make a lot of money, you make a lot of money, that is what I believe,” Sanders said. “So again, I don’t apologize for writing a book that was number three on the New York Times best seller, translated into five or six languages and that’s that.”
Political experts note that Bernie Sanders has faced greater scrutiny in his current presidential run than he did in 2016, as he comes in as a frontrunner rather than a little-known challenger. But Sanders has also enjoyed the benefit of greater media coverage as well, garnering among the most media time of all the candidates in a crowded field.
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Sanders has also continued to flex his fundraising muscle that propelled him to a long run in 2016 despite falling into an early hole against Clinton. As PBS News noted, Sanders has raised the most of any prospective Democratic candidate, raking in a total of $18 million so far. California Senator Kamala Harris is in second with $12 million, and only Beto O’Rourke has more than half as much as Sanders.