(trendingpoliticsnews) – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders allocated $200,000 from his campaign funds to his wife’s nonprofit organization, the Sanders Institute, as found in the records of the Federal Election Commission. The campaign made two payments of $100,000 each in January and March.
According to Fox News Digital, these are the most significant payments from the Sanders campaign to any group this election cycle. Jane O’Meara Sanders, the senator’s wife, and David Driscoll, his stepson, co-founded the Sanders Institute in 2017.
According to The Washington Post, its purpose is to serve as a think tank that uplifts progressive perspectives.
Fox News writes:
Just two years after its launch, in 2019, the institute announced it would suspend operations as Sen. Sanders sought the Democratic nomination for president to avoid the “appearance of impropriety” and presumably to take away a line of attack from his rivals over its money.
The institute has since quietly resumed operations while seemingly sidestepping media attention. Its latest publicly available tax forms from 2021 show the nonprofit burnt nearly 40% of its donations on salaries while appearing to conduct minimal work and having very few identifiable accomplishments.
The tax documents indicate that the progressive lawmaker’s stepson is the big winner of the operation. In 2021, the institute raised $716,618 and drove $257,000 into wages, including $152,653 in salary and other compensation to Driscoll, who acts as its executive director. He identifies the role as his primary job on his LinkedIn profile after previously working outside the political world as the global director of team and media for Burton Snowboards.
In 2021, the institute also reported spending $159,885 on developing The Timeline Project, which it described as a “policy-focused resource based on Bernie Sanders’ work over four decades” that would be one of the “key pilars [sic] of the website.” Additionally, it disbursed nearly $89,000 for a news website, an identical amount for social media and content creation, and $17,765 for a gathering it had to cancel due to the pandemic.
On its YouTube channel, only two videos have been posted this year, with short messages from contributors, one of whom is Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-WA. The institute’s profile on X (Twitter), largely shares external news stories and opinion pieces written by its associates.
While Jane Sanders had expressed a desire to financially back other progressive entities during the institute’s inception, there’s no record of the organization doing so. The Sanders Institute did not report any monetary donations to other progressive groups in its 2021 tax documentation.
Additionally, the institute does not publicly list its benefactors in its tax submissions. Nevertheless, Fox News Digital managed to uncover the primary sources of its funding from the latest available records.
FEC records indicate that in April 2021, Sen. Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign contributed $350,000 to the institute. Additionally, a nonprofit named Wend II Inc donated $250,000 that year, aiming to enhance “content capacity,” as revealed in their tax documents. James M. Walton, director of Wend II Inc, is the son of James Carr Walton, an heir to the Walmart legacy and one of the globe’s most affluent businessmen.
Combined, these contributions constituted approximately 84% of the $716,000 that the Sanders Institute accumulated in 2021. In 2018, VTDigger highlighted the think tank’s limited output in its inaugural year, noting a lack of original material. This trend seems consistent, as the institute continues to feature content that often originates from other platforms.