During the third quarter, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont allocated $75,000 from his campaign funds to the Sanders Institute, a nonprofit founded by his wife, Jane, and stepson, David Driscoll, as revealed by Fox News Digital.
Records from the Federal Election Commission show that this transaction took place on Aug. 8. This comes after a previous donation of $200,000 from the senator's committee to the same institute earlier in the year.
Established six years ago, the Sanders Institute was intended as a platform for progressive voices. Despite its objectives, it seems the organization has conducted minimal activities, while Driscoll received a significant compensation.
Bernie Sanders funnels $75,000 more from campaign coffers to his wife, stepson’s nonprofit
This follows a $200k transfer previously
This is how politicians steal money from donors to enrich themselves
This is why I don’t donate to politicians https://t.co/mlS6FgXs45
— Phil Holloway ✈️ (@PhilHollowayEsq) October 23, 2023
"The facts present in this case and the family ties involved certainly raise legitimate concern," Kendra Arnold, executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, shared with Fox News Digital. "In other words, if the nonprofit and its executive director are truly producing work and actually earning the money, it is not illegal, but it is frowned upon. On the other hand, if nothing or very little is being done to earn the money legitimately, then it is highly likely a serious campaign finance violation has taken place."
"While on its face, the percentage the nonprofit paid out in salary alone is not necessarily problematic, legally the issue hinges on whether the salaries were paid for bona fide services at fair market value," Arnold said. "In other words, if the nonprofit and its executive director are truly producing work and actually earning the money, it is not illegal, but it is frowned upon. On the other hand, if nothing or very little is being done to earn the money legitimately, then it is highly likely a serious campaign finance violation has taken place."
In 2017, during the institute's inception, Jane Sanders expressed to the Washington Post that the organization aimed to rejuvenate "democracy" and bolster progressive entities.
"Our feeling is at our point in time, our country is at a crossroads and people are engaged in a political process that can be opaque," Sanders said to the publication.
"A vital democracy requires an informed electorate, civil discourse and bold thinking," she continued. "So, we put together this team to focus on issues, but not in a partisan way, not in a way that just focuses on the latest crazy thing. It will not be about [former President Donald] Trump; it will be about the issues facing the country."
In 2019, the institute halted its activities as Sanders participated in the Democratic presidential primaries to sidestep the "appearance of impropriety." It has discreetly resumed activities since then.
According to the most recent tax documents from 2021, the organization allocated roughly 40% of its donations towards salaries, despite displaying limited activity and few evident accomplishments.
Last year, the institute accumulated close to $717,000, allocating $257,000 for salaries. This includes Driscoll's earnings, the executive director, which totaled $152,653 in salary and additional benefits.
In the same timeframe, the organization also spent around $160,000 on The Timeline Project, described as a "policy-focused resource based on Bernie Sanders' work over four decades." The project was intended to be one of the "key pilars (sic) of the website."
They also allocated close to $89,000 for a news platform, a similar amount for social media and content production, and approximately $17,000 for an event that was canceled because of the pandemic. The latest information about any institute event on its website dates back to 2018.
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