Politics

Tardy Sanders financial disclosure is dominated by wife’s pensions

Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders, center, with his wife, Jane, on the night of his victory in New Hampshire. Courtesy photo

After bypassing two filing deadlines, Bernie Sanders submitted his 2015 financial disclosure report Monday to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, a move that comes virtually at the end of a presidential primary season where the candidate shared few financial details.

The report was initially due May 16, but Sanders was granted an extension. He then missed the new deadline, which was Sunday. After a press inquiry to Sanders’ Burlington office about the filing delay, the report was posted online in the Senate database at 5:02 p.m. Monday.

The annual financial filings are required of all U.S. senators, who must give details on assets, liabilities and investments, as well as provided gifts and travel from private entities.

The 2015 report details more than 30 mutual fund investments in the name of Sanders’ wife, Jane, including three new investments not present in the 2014 report. The total value of the investments is between $191,000 and $815,000. The value of each asset must be stated within a range. Most on this latest filing are worth less than $15,000; one is valued at $50,000 to $100,000.

The investments, made in stock portfolios offered through financial firms like TIAA CREF and Vanguard, include portfolios offered through the pension plan she received after resigning as president of Burlington College in 2011.

Candidate Sanders collected less than $5,000 in pension payments in 2015 from his time as Burlington’s mayor.

He donated his entire 2015 haul, as required under Senate rules, from paid speeches and appearances — $3,885 — to charities. More than $3,000 of the total came from the Avalon Publishing Group, which printed “The Speech,” a text of Sanders’ 2010 Senate filibuster on corporate greed. He also received $850 from Maher Live Inc. to travel to Los Angeles for an appearance on the HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

The Vermont senator has provided little financial information in his campaign for president as well, releasing only a partial tax return from 2014. The campaign provided the 2014 tax details after Democratic rival Hillary Clinton assailed Sanders on the issue during an April debate in New York City.

“There is a long-standing expectation that everybody running release their tax returns, and you can go — you can go to my website and see eight years of tax returns,” Clinton said. “And I’ve released 30 years of tax returns.”

Sanders responded, “Of course we will release our taxes.”

“Jane does our taxes,” he continued. “We’ve been a little bit busy lately. You’ll excuse us. But we will.”

The Vermont senator has become one of the least transparent presidential candidates when it comes to finances, according to PolitiFact.

This election cycle, the only candidate to provide fewer financial details is presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has not provided any tax data.

Although presidential candidates are not required to release the data, Republicans and Democrats have typically released tax returns going back many years. President Barack Obama, for example, has released 15 years of tax returns.

While tax returns are not required for presidential candidates, Senate financial disclosure requirements were instituted as part of the 1978 Ethics in Government Act.

A more recent statute says that only reports going back to 2012 must be made available online. Besides the 2015 report, online records show Sanders requested filing extensions on his 2012 and 2014 reports.

Since 2012, Vermont’s senior U.S. senator, Patrick Leahy, has never missed a deadline or requested an extension.

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Jasper Craven

About Jasper

Jasper Craven is VTDigger’s political reporter. A Vermont native, he first discovered his love for journalism at the Caledonian Record. He double-majored in print journalism and political science at Boston University, and worked in the Boston Globe’s Metro and Investigative units. While at the Globe he collaborated on Shadow Campus, a three-part investigative series focused on greed and mismanagement in Boston’s off-campus student housing market. The series was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize.
He also spent two years at MuckRock, a news sited dedicated to investigation and analysis of government documents. 

Craven covered Vermont’s U.S. Congressional delegation for the Times Argus in the summer of 2014, and worked as a Metro reporter for the Chicago Tribune before joining the staff of VTDigger.

Email: jcraven@vtdigger.org

Follow Jasper on Twitter @Jasper_Craven

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  • Susanna Rodani

    Regardless of the facts (lest we not forget that politics inevitably invokes special considerations, many of which are covered under the Very Special Federal Statute: “The Smoke and Mirrors Act of 1967”), the Citizenry are always given a choice between Candidate Smoke and Candidate Mirrors.

    That’s All Folks ?

  • Paul Richards

    Looks like a typical politician’s financial statement; pension plan proceeds paid by someone else and payoffs from entities like burlington college. No actual wages from actual work.

    • Susanna Rodani

      Paul,
      Your observation is very keen.
      Bernie is claiming to be a non-politician, yet in truth he has his own political agenda which appears to be more and more an agenda mix of anarchy and personal power.
      All the while he is being highly paid and benefitted by the very government he and Jane propose to tear asunder. Basically his utopian society would tax every man, woman and child at 55% of their income, but his government salary would most likely be exempt, as US senators and members of congress get special pension deals, health insurance, etc.
      I haven’t noticed Bernie giving back his salary, or did I miss something?
      Susanna

  • Karen Ryder

    After reading VT Digger’s articles on Sen Sanders for several months, I get the impression that your reporters do not like him very much. You seem to take every occasion to write negative articles about him. I agree that Sanders should have filed all required reports on time. It is a requirement for the job. My guess is that, along with Ted Cruz, he is one of the poorest members of the Senate and doesn’t use a professional tax firm. Is this his first failure to report on time or the first infraction? Regardless, I have no concern that he is deluding tax payers regarding his income or payments. Looking around at most of the other Senators, I am certain that most Senators, many of whom are millionaires or multi-millionaires, use large firms to take care of all their tax issues. In addition, I have a suspicion that many of them take every opportunity to write off whatever they possibly can. I’d really appreciate it if the VT Digger would lay off of Senator Sanders and give him some applause for being the most honest, straightforward and energetic Senators currently serving. He has been a credit to our state and government.
    Your seemingly continuous efforts to belittle his accomplishments while highlighting his minimal deficiencies leave me with the distinct belief that you are biased against him or at least rooting for the other guys and gals. You are counted upon to deliver the news without the editorial comments and implications, unless, of course, you are writing an editorial.

    • Ann Meade

      Clinton’s effective tax rate 38 percent in 2015, $10 million to charity. Bernie can smack talk HRC’s speeches but she is out there busting her hump, paying taxes and giving. He on the other hand has been MIA from his job and collecting Social Security. Stop blaming media for reporting the truth.

    • Irene Stewart

      Karen, one of the crazy reasons given by Bernard and Jane Sanders for not releasing their taxes for 2015 is that the taxes are at the accountant’s office. So, yes, they do use professional tax firms. They have a lot of money they do not want his supporters to know about, thus, the real reason for not releasing taxes. $176,000 salary from US Senate, $46,000 in Social Security payments, $all the investment income; rental income from their properties; her antique business; her interest from the $200,000 payout from Burlington College, she destroyed single handedly, his pension from the government, his pension from the city of Burlington, and on and on. Poor? Don’t think so, and now, most people know about it too.

    • Karen, I had just the opposite impression of Jasper Craven’s reporting. Previously,it seemed to me that there was an effort by this reporter to put Sanders in the best possible light. Of late, however I feel that he has become more objective.
      I like Bernie. I have voted for him several times. I personally feel he is not the best candidate for President. He has, to a very great degree, been treated with kid gloves during this entire process, by the national press, who admittedly took a while to warm up to him and recognize his potential. He has been treated especially well in the Vermont press. Even the Clinton’s campaign strategy has been to treat Sanders very gently. There are not a lot of skeletons in his closet, though.
      On the other hand, Hillary has, for decades, and even more so now, been lambasted in the press. Some, including me occasionally, may feel it has been deserved, but so much of it is unfounded, unsubstantiated, “guilt” by repeated accusations disseminated by her detractors in the press as well an intense social media smear campaign.
      There may be, though, some frustration regarding Sanders on a few issues that actually are of little importance or consequence. I guarantee that if Clinton had not divulged her financial statements, there would have been Hell to pay.

    • Max. D. Meridi

      I’m no fan of Bernie, but “Tardy Sanders” is a new low (especially from a premier, respected publication in his home state.) One would expect David lee Roth to have been listed on that byline.

      If one considers VT Digger’s silence on the the financial scandals dogging Hillary Clinton for decades, as well as the recent State Dept. IG’s investigation lambasting Hillary’s lack of:
      — adherence to her own security standards,
      — accountability,
      — transparency,
      — and/or any semblance of cooperation,

      …this piece is pretty unfair. The press should not be so obviously in the tank for any given candidate.

  • Paul Kenny

    I have no respect for Bernie Sanders. He rails against corporate greed and how Wall Street needs to be dismantled, but the guy has no problems supporting the wind turbine developers who have raided Vermont and threaten to destroy the very fabric of our beautiful state with scores and scores of these 500 ft tall monsters atop every available ridgeline in Vermont. And who benefits Bernie? Not anyone living in Vermont. Not anyone living here in Windham where one of the world’s greediest corporations, Iberdrola Renewables, is threatening to erect 28 of these turbines on our pristine ridgeline. No Bernie, the major beneficieres are the Wall Street financial institutions that invest in these tax credit scams pretending to care about renewable green energy when the only “green” they care about is the money, the fortunes they will reap as they rape our beautiful Vermont. And Bernie, starting with your support of rejecting the 3 year moratorium on any wind development in Vermont, you have known the real “rules of the renewable energy game” here in Vermont. Interested to see if any of the wind developers or their associates have donated money to you. Fortunately, you are about to become a footnote in history. Unfortunately, your arrogance in continuing to challenge Hillary Clinton could make Dionald Trump the next President who vows to stop all renewable energy credits and return the country to fossil fuels. Nice move Bernie. You can’t always get what you want. Vermonters derserve a lot better from our politicians than you.

    • Susanna Rodani

      And Bernie has the personality of a spoiler in the tradition of Ralph Nader. Thanks to Ralph Nader the country got the Royal shaft. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again this time around?

  • Karen Ryder

    Interesting that this negative article is followed by only negative statements aside from my own. Given the verbiage below, I cannot help but wonder how Sen Sanders won the Dem primary with 86% of Vermonters voting Democratic. I stand by my original statement that Vermont Digger seems biased against him in spite of his popularity in our state.