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Sanders’ Earnings Top $1 Million

Published: 6/23/2018 1:00:50 AM
Modified: 6/23/2018 1:01:03 AM

Washington — For the second year in a row, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ income topped six figures.

A recent financial disclosure report shows the junior Vermont senator made nearly $1.06 million in 2017. Most of his income — $885,767 — came from advances and royalties, according to the report filed in May.

Sanders earned $174,000 for his service in the Senate.

The senator hit the $1 million mark for the first time in 2016. Most of his income came from a book deal for Our Revolution, which came out after his failed bid for the Democratic nomination for president.

Sanders, an independent, historically has been among the least wealthy members of Congress. In 2014, for example, he earned little more than his congressional salary and had $330,000 in assets.

The 2016 presidential bid catapulted him to national prominence and paved the way for lucrative public speaking and publishing opportunities.

Throughout his political career and during his presidential run, Sanders has railed against “millionaires and billionaires” who don’t pay enough in taxes.

Jeff Weaver, the senator’s senior political adviser, said in an interview with VtDigger that questions about whether Sanders’ newfound wealth undermines his message about wealth inequality were “ridiculous.”

“That was a pretty funny question, Anne,” Weaver said. “Bernie Sanders continues to fight for working class people across this country so I think it’s a pretty ridiculous question.”

Weaver did not know whether the senator is donating money to charity. In 2014, Sanders gave 4 percent of his income to nonprofits.

It is not clear if Sanders will contribute to two nonprofit organizations he founded in 2016 after his presidential bid — Our Revolution, a 501(c)4 political organization, and The Sanders Institute, a 501(c)3 nonprofit think tank co-founded by his wife and stepson.

Sanders formed his own “dark money” group at the same time he railed against 501(c)4s, which are not required to publicly disclose financial information, and have been effectively used by conservatives to influence elections and policymaking.

The 2017 disclosure form shows that the bulk of Sanders’ earnings came in the form of a $505,000 advance against royalties from publisher Macmillan-St. Martin’s Press. The New York-based publishing house is slated to put out a new book by the senator later this year.

An additional $306,000 in royalties came from the same publisher, according to the form, which also published his 2016 best-seller.

Sanders disclosed six royalty agreements, which involved book projects dating back to 1990 and a spoken-word folk music album he recorded in 1987. He also brought in money from a pension from the city of Burlington, where he was mayor for eight years in the 1980s.

The senator owns three homes, including a retreat in the Lake Champlain islands. Sanders and his wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, purchased the North Hero, Vt., summer home for $575,000 in 2016. He is identified as a co-trustee on the “Islands Family Trust.”

His disclosure lists two mortgages, one on a property between $100,001 and $250,000 in value, the other between $250,001 and $500,000.

“Bernie is a homeowner in Vermont,” Weaver said. “After 16 years of renting in D.C., he took the radical step of buying a small row house. And like many Vermonters, he and Jane have a camp on Lake Champlain.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., did not report any additional earned, non-investment income in either 2016 or 2017. His reported earnings from assets were minimal, with the largest amount disclosed coming from life insurance.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Peter Welch’s 29-page disclosure details his assets and unearned income, as well as financial transactions. The disclosure provides the amount of income from assets and transactions in categories. It is not clear how much Welch made in total.




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