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.

Jasper Craven

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