Open Thread: Sanders Family Grift Realizes It Can’t Withstand Public Scrutiny

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.”…

72 replies
  1. 1
    Ohio Mom says:

    My eyes are closing on me but before I drift off: Your 15 minutes are over, Bernie, Go away!

  2. 2
    Ruckus says:

    Has this dipshit ever listened to what he says or paid any attention to what goes on under his name? He sure isn’t the most irresponsible person to run for president, that one won last time, but he’s a damn close second place.
    The concept that someone could want a person this much out of touch with the world around him to be president astounds me. He keeps stepping on his own dick like he enjoys it.

  3. 3
    Mike in NC says:

    Just surprised there was never a Sanders University or Sanders Steaks. Another con artist with Russian funding.

  4. 4
    B.B.A. says:

    @Mike in NC: There was a Burlington College but there isn’t anymore.

  5. 5
    NotMax says:

    Really, really, really uninterested in rehashing Wilmer for the umpty-umpth time.

    To be blunt: He’s as relevant as yesterday’s toilet paper.

  6. 6
    balconesfault says:

    For all of his years in the House and Senate, history will remember Bernie’s main accomplishment was putting together a campaign apparatus that managed to convince millions of low attention span voters that Hillary really was as corrupt as Republicans kept saying for decades, and to convince millions of young liberal voters that voting for Hillary was akin to supporting a republican-lite agenda.

  7. 7
    balconesfault says:

    @NotMax: except that he’s going to be out on the campaign trail, and his Bernie bro minions are going to be bashing true Dems once again.

  8. 8
    NotMax says:



    The Legion of WATBs? Not worth giving the time of day.

  9. 9
    NotMax says:



    Let ’em, the fair weather Democrats, scream themselves hoarse. At this point they’re screaming into a void.

  10. 10
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    Her son, David Driscoll, is paid $100,000 a year as co-founder and executive director.

    skimming $100,000 off the top – just like Marx intended.

    lets remember, the cost of living is really low in rural vermont. $100,000 is like a million dollars, elsewhere.

  11. 11
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    Driscoll previously was an executive for Nike


    a company built on child labor and sweat shops


  12. 12
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    About this:

    a think tank founded by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ wife and son

    I have a question. Has he joined the Democratic Party for another 3 months again?

  13. 13
    gene108 says:

    Funny how the Clinton Foundation is the only non-profit, of 2016 candidates, that can stand up to legal scrutiny and does actual charitable work, but keeps getting smeared with allegations of corruption.

  14. 14
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    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.

    I don’t remember him going after the CGI, but… fuck him once again. And another attack the presaged trump’s.

  15. 15
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Ruckus: Him and Ron Paul have the same set of excuses. In fact you never see them together. Coincidence…

  16. 16
    NotMax says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist

    going after the CGI

    Screw Michael Bay.


  17. 17
    joel hanes says:

    @Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho:

    Has he joined the Democratic Party for another 3 months again?

    He’s now sorta a quantum superposition :
    he’s filed to run for President in 2020 as a Democrat,
    but he’s ALSO filed to run for Senate in 2024 in Vermont — as an Independent

  18. 18


    his Bernie bro minions are going to be bashing true Dems once again.

    They already are. Hard. I think the twisted descriptions they spread of Kamala Harris are doing damage.

  19. 19
    Bobby Thomson says:

    Is it soon yet?

  20. 20
    balconesfault says:

    @Adam L Silverman: there’s actually a head shop chain here in Austin that for years kept featuring Ron Paul campaign stuff on the front of their store. Of course in 2016 it shifted over to Bernie stuff.

    I’m not sure how anyone can reconcile Paul’s economics and Bernie’s economics without having their brains explode. But then again, it is a head shop chain.

  21. 21
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: yep. Putin’s really getting bang for his buck.

  22. 22
    NotMax says:


    The key difference being that this year anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows what to expect and has already factored it into both strategy and tactics.

  23. 23


    has already factored it into both strategy and tactics.

    They’re still doing damage. Even a brilliant fighter doesn’t need one more opponent. They are a problem. Bernie is a problem. An active problem that will make it harder to win 2020. We cannot afford to ignore him and pretend he’s a legitimate rival like we did in 2016.

  24. 24
    Ruckus says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Neither one of them is worth NotMax’s used toilet paper, but if I had to rate both of them I’d actually put Ron above BS. He seems to have come by his stupidity a bit more honestly than BS has and he at least has taken a stand. Of course he falls off that stand all the time but still he has a stand in the first place. BS is not the first man to wish he could blow himself but he is the most public about trying to prove that he has.

  25. 25
    NotMax says:


    Empty barrels barrels make the most noise.

    (Not directed at you in any way, shape or form.)

  26. 26
    James E Powell says:


    Reminds me of the 2000 Naderites. They attack Democrats because that’s how they get attention and donations. They are not at all concerned with winning the nomination or the election. Their view is that the worse thing that can happen is a victory by a Democrat they don’t like – which means pretty much any Democrat who can win an election.

  27. 27
    Ruckus says:


    We cannot afford to ignore him and pretend he’s a legitimate rival like we did in 2016.

    I don’t think nearly as many people are doing that this time. I haven’t seen any major players calling him on it but I suspect that quite a few will pretty soon.
    Also it must be nice to have led such a simple and yet rewarding life that he can afford to act like his shit doesn’t stink. When in fact it reeks thousands of miles away.

  28. 28
    NotMax says:


    Yuppers. It’s way early yet. I suspect the percentage of people paying so much as a scintilla of attention to any of this at present is in the single digits.

    The low single digits.

    Contra all too many, Twitter is not the world.

  29. 29
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @balconesfault: A lot of the Bernie Bros started out as Ron Paul followers.

  30. 30
    tobie says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: They’ve also gone after Gillibrand, Klobuchar, Booker, and O’Rourke. I don’t know if they’ve attacked Warren, but they’ve made it clear that if the Democratic Party doesn’t conform entirely to them, they will try to destroy it. I call that hostage taking.

  31. 31
    Matt says:

    It’s funny how this is the same bullshit they pulled on Clinton and the Clinton foundation, and from the same sources: AP & NY Times, and yet you follow down the rabbit hole because you hate Bernie so much..
    Both Headlines are meant to show that Clinton and Sanders are secretly corrupt with spouses who are enmeshed in this endeavor with a monetary stake in the charity. It’s not until you’re well deep into each article that you find neither Bill Clinton or Jane Sanders are paid for the work they are doing…

    I don’t understand you Bernie Haters at all….
    *eye roll*

  32. 32
    West of the Rockies says:

    How can this be? After all, a little birdy landed upon Saint Bernie’s podium to anoint him. It was a friggin’ Festivus miracle!

  33. 33
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @West of the Rockies: the bird heard the Airing Of The Grievances, and was drawn to Wilmer’s righteous bellowing!

    Truly he keeps festivus in his heart all the year ’round.

  34. 34
    NotMax says:


    For the record (and speak now only for myself) I don’t hate him. I pity him, waving his tattered ego like a phoney-baloney battle flag.

    Personally unchanged in that respect from four years ago.

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    I don’t understand you Bernie Haters at all….

    That’s fine. I don’t understand how someone could still be supporting Bernie in 2019.

  36. 36
    NotMax says:

    No edit function.


    waving his tattered ego and Cliff’s Notes socialism (fauxialism) like a phoney-baloney battle flag.

  37. 37
    Jay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: @NotMax:

    The eye roll was snark.

  38. 38
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    Notice Matt’s last line.
    I believe that he was being sarcastic. I recognize this as I am also a practitioner of the art. And as usual with that, not always successful.

  39. 39
    NotMax says:


    Oft times tough to decode.

    Karl Snarx – now there was a fellow with ideas.


  40. 40
    Mnemosyne says:


    It’s funny how you only figured out the Clinton Foundation attacks were bullshit when your Lord and Savior Bernie Sanders was attacked for the same thing.

    Your sanctimony is two years too late.

  41. 41
    Jay says:


    It was snark.

  42. 42
    Jay says:


    It helps to remember nyms and previous posts, also note the subtle criticism noting that the author could’s write about Bernie’s “foundation” with out mentioning the Clinton Foundation while completely ignoring the Trump “foundation”.

    Sometimes the knife goes into the ribs, almost silently.

  43. 43
    NotMax says:


    No excuse, but I’m old and often confuse similar nyms over time and there are several which include the name Matt as a part of them.

  44. 44
    smike says:

    ? “…that the author could’s write about Bernie’s…” ?

    That ” ‘s ” seems so purposeful that I think I’m missing something.

  45. 45
    joel hanes says:


    a head shop chain here in Austin

    Oat Willie’s, perhaps ?

    One of Gilbert Shelton’s more twisted creations :

  46. 46
    Jay says:


    It’s his “foundation”, even if he held himself on paper at arms length.

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:


    I disagree, but Matt is a big boy who can speak for himself. If he was trying to snark, he needs to get a slap on the wrist for violating Poe’s Law.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    StringOnAStick says:

    I mentioned this in a dead thread yesterday, but the only couple I know who stayed Wilmer fans and bought the “he was robbed” crap have totally dropped him as being ineffective since 2016. They saw Gov. Inslee and are all in with him because of his single focus on climate change. Having your first grandchild can focus your attention.

  50. 50
    SRW1 says:


    The economic idea of Paul-ware and Sanders-ware is kind of exactly the same: Making a buck along the lines of ‘pecunia non olet’.

  51. 51
    Ruckus says:

    Latin? There are so many to choose from and Latin?
    I mean it’s a good line for the circumstance and all…….
    How about:
    iacere super asinam tuam et publice confessio fidei

  52. 52

    @Ruckus: Latin? It’s all Greek to me.

  53. 53
    SRW1 says:


    I’m afraid faith doesn’t come into it. Other than possibly in the Golden Calf kind of way.

  54. 54
    Ruckus says:

    It’s been a very long time ago, I was going for “lie out your ass about your beliefs.”

  55. 55
    Ruckus says:

    It just seems like Greek, however it is supposed to be Latin.

  56. 56
    SRW1 says:


    I only know ‘fidei’ via ‘Confessio Fidei’ from the 1530 ‘Augsburg Confession’ where it it means ‘Confession of Faith’.

    It’s indeed been many moons ago and, though I did have Latin at school, what has remained of that is mostly the junks connected to historic events.

    Alea jacta sunt!

  57. 57
    joel hanes says:

    A perfect opportunity to trot this out :

  58. 58
    oatler. says:

    @SRW1: Galba agricola est

  59. 59
    Steve in the ATL says:

    Would you west coasters quiet down, please? Some of us are trying to sleep!

  60. 60
  61. 61
  62. 62
    SRW1 says:


    Sunt pueri pueri, pueri puerilia tractant.

  63. 63
    NotMax says:

    @Steve in the ATL

    The cake mustard sleep is a lie.


  64. 64
  65. 65
    sukabi says:

    I’m actually surprised the other son Levi isn’t getting a cut of the foundation action.

  66. 66
    Anne Laurie says:


    I’m actually surprised the other son Levi isn’t getting a cut of the foundation action.

    It’s pretty clear, after Levi’s last failed campaign, that Bernie finds his bio-offspring an embarrassment.

    Given her age and upbringing (not far in time, space, or lace-curtain Irishness from mine), I suspect Jane does as well. And it’s beginning to look like the narrative, at least, is that Jane controls the household’s money matters — whether tax filings or money-making schemes.

  67. 67
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Matt: Jane wasn’t paid from the foundation but his son was. Jane’s grift was laundered through Old Towne Media.

  68. 68
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Matt: also, go shove your attempt at false equivalence up your ass. Both Clintons and the Foundation were completely transparent about their finances. Bernie and Jane haven’t released jack shit in the way of tax returns.

  69. 69
    wonkie says:

    What pisses me off about this it the quote from Bernie in which he repeats the rightwing lie about the Clinton Foundation being a way for foreigners to buy influence, Really shameful to repeat rightwing lies. So yeah go away Bernie. I appreciate his role in moving the Democratic party toward progressive goals, but thanks now go away,

  70. 70
    Ruckus says:

    @Steve in the ATL:
    What is this sleep you talk about?

  71. 71
    Ruckus says:

    The only direction he moved the democratic party in was out of.
    I’m convinced that he is as much of a Russian stooge as Trump. And that’s deep into it. Grand Canyon deep into it. I believe that he doesn’t have the places to hide his involvement as Trump does (decades of grifting and losing money are Trump’s only positive gifts) but he’s in deep. I doubt that I’m the only one to notice that so many are deep into a country that used to be a major enemy of the US, that a lot of people have died fighting indirectly and that most of them are rightwing hard liners. Except for the guy who claims every so often to be one of us so he can ratfuck our elections.

  72. 72
    artem1s says:

    You can’t just pack up the money and move on when you are running a 501 org. You have to demonstrate that you have done due diligence in fulfilling donor intent. Hope the IRS takes a look at the dissolving. And whatever state AG who has authority. I imagine they may end up in the same boat as tRump foundation. And the penalties for violating the enurement clause are pretty stiff. BTW did these grifters ever file their final FEC reports? Did they return those millions of $27 donations to those Russian bots? This asshole’s whole campaign is a Ponzi scam waiting to collapse on itself. The Dems need to dump him before this shit blows up. He is John Edwards all over again.

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