APNewsBreak: The Sanders Institute, a think tank founded by Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders’ wife and son, has stopped accepting donations and plans to suspend operations by the end of May. https://t.co/ODQvDVLMrB
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) March 14, 2019
Yes, I am a mean petty little person:
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The Sanders Institute, a think tank founded by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ wife and son, is shutting down, at least for now, amid criticism that the nonprofit has blurred the lines between family, fundraising and campaigning.
The Vermont-based institute has stopped accepting donations and plans to suspend all operations by the end of May “so there could not even be an appearance of impropriety,” Jane Sanders told The Associated Press.
The unexpected move by the institute’s board of directors comes as Bernie Sanders, a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination, prepares for a wave of intense scrutiny into his political network and his family’s role in its operation.
As a candidate in 2016, Sanders criticized Hillary Clinton over her family’s nonprofit, saying the foundation run by Clinton’s husband and daughter amounted to a back door for foreign leaders and others seeking to buy access and influence. The Sanders Institute could open the Vermont senator to charges of hypocrisy.
The institute was founded to promote liberal policies less than two years ago by Sanders’ family with the backing of pro-Sanders celebrities and advocates— though Sanders himself had no formal role. While it operates at a fraction of the scale of the Clinton Foundation, it has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars during its brief existence and has declined to disclose its donors.
Jane Sanders, who also serves as a chief adviser to her husband’s presidential campaign, is not compensated for her role at the institute. Her son, David Driscoll, is paid $100,000 a year as co-founder and executive director. Driscoll previously was an executive for Nike and the Vermont snowboarding firm Burton, but had no previous nonprofit experience, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The lack of transparency and the family ties have drawn criticism from good-government advocates…
In her own founding role at the institute, Jane Sanders acted as the organization’s curator, both online and in person. She was the star of the organization’s December “Gathering” in Burlington, an assemblage of progressive speakers that included her husband as well as environmentalist Bill McKibben and actor Danny Glover.
Her continued involvement with the institute and her active role in her husband’s campaign could have raised questions about the nonprofit’s tax status under federal law. The institute was founded under Section 501c3 of the U.S. tax code, which prohibits it from substantial involvement in influencing legislation or participating “in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”…
Honestly I think Our Revolution will close its doors within 18 months of Sanders losing too. Both orgs-them and Sanders Institute-were built to establish infrastructure for Bernie's 2nd run.
— Marcus H. Johnson (@marcushjohnson) March 15, 2019