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The secret of Bernie's millions

Michael Kruse is chief editor for Politico .

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Early in his eight years as mayor of this city, when he typically dressed in a tielose ensemble One day, Bernie Sanders left the town hall and found a ticket on the windshield of his rusty Volkswagen Dasher. The offense: This was the mayor's job, and certainly a policeman thought this was not the mayor's car. But it was. It fit in perfectly with Sanders Image as a shabby little guy's supporter and his own shaky financial reality. It was in the early eighties, and he approached 40, a single father of a not-so-young son, who rented a spare apartment on the second floor and struggled to keep up with his bills. "Not only," he wrote in his yellow coffee-spotted notebooks kept in the University of Vermont archive, "I do not pay bills every month -" What, every month? "- I can not …" His scribbles in barely legible cursive margins now read at the same time as memories and thoughts of thought: "gas", "light", "water".

He said, said Bruce Seifer, a friend of Sanders, an economic adviser in his administration, and one of many people who know him, who told me that, "frugal." Seifer paused and considered how he did it should express correctly. "That's a nice way to say he's a cheap son of a bitch."

Continuation of the story

It may still be cheap today, but it is certainly not poor. Following his presidential election in 201

6, the 77-year-old democratic socialist is the most lucrative he has ever made. He is himself a millionaire with three homes – with a net worth of nearly $ 2 million, considering his public opinion of outlined assets and debts, as well as the real estate he owns in full. In the narrow sense, Sanders has become one of the rich against whom he has so relentlessly resisted. The advocate of the subclass and chastiser of the "1 percent" has found himself in the socioeconomic penthouse of his rhetorical idiot. This development, largely due to the high sums accumulated through the publication of books in recent years, has predictably evoked Snarky pokes, partisan coups, and hypocrisy. The millionaire socialist!

Sanders himself was impatient when he thought about it. "I've written a bestselling book," he told the New York Times after recently publishing the last 10 years of his tax returns. "If you write a bestselling book, you can be a millionaire too." "You know, I have a college degree," he said.

Based on a more in-depth review of his financial statements, his tax returns, property records in Washington and Vermont, and barely puffed-up scraps of his financial papers, Sanders' current financial portrait, housed here at UVM, is not just a godsend. It is also the product (with the help of his wife) of decades of planning. The upward trajectory of his Jalopy to relative wealth – unusual as it is for a man who once said he has "no great desire to be rich" – is the result of years of middle-class effort, with credit card debt, real estate upgrades, and a series of mutual funds and retirement accounts.

Sanders, the son of an immigrant, has a narrative arc that would form the backbone of the campaign history of almost every other candidate. But for him it is more complicated. In the modern political history of this country, there has never been anyone like Sanders – someone who made a career by chasing millionaires … and who is now a millionaire himself. There is no fixed strategy for candidacy as a democratic socialist with an expensive summerhouse on the lake shore. Americans generally do not give millionaires anything of their millions – and as Donald Trump has confirmed, the aura of wealth can serve as a useful means of self-promotion – but what do you think of Sander's seemingly contradictory narratives?

"He became what he accuses and does not fix at the same time has brought him to this point," said Mary Anne Marsh, a Democratic strategist from Boston.

"He sounds almost sometimes as if he thinks it's inherently evil when it's alright," said the experienced Democratic strategist Bob Shrum this week in an interview authoritative or convincing, especially as the highest-ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee for the year 2020 for costly programs such as study-free study and general health care, or defuse its drill-home political brand and some of it How do you confuse its message?

"I think it's only awkward for someone to easily understand what Bernie is trying to achieve," said Jeff Weaver, Senior Sanders Consultant A Toll of Security. "

" It depends on how it works, "said Shrum.

What is certain, though, is that Sanders became wealthy and how he managed his money did the least radical things about the self-identified radical Sanders.


Before he had three houses, Sanders grew up in a rented apartment with three and a half rooms. The economy boomed in the years following World War II, but in Sanders' corner of the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York, life meant lifesaving and erosion.

His parents, a Polish salesman and housewife, as he once said, were "a solid middle class," and they often argued about money – "arguments and more arguments," Sanders said. "Painful arguments. Bitter arguments. Arguments that went through a boy's head to avoid being forgotten. "At the beginning of his second presidential candidacy, Sanders was reluctantly willing to tell more of his personal past, but at least that's part of it. He's been talking as long as someone has listened to him and written it down. "Money was a constant source of anxiety," he told a 1983 reporter in the Wall Street Journal . "Money was something that the family, the entire neighborhood, was constantly busy with," he said The Atlantic in 1985. "The money issue for me," he said in a 2010 book entitled The Jews of Capitol Hill "was always very deep and emotional." [19659004] Sander's mother died when he was 18 and his father died when he was 20 years old. He received "a few thousand dollars" inheritance. And for $ 2,500 this summer, after graduating from the University of Chicago, he and his first wife bought 85 acres of meadow and forest in Middlesex, Vermont, a secluded piece of land with an old maple sugar house. "Without electricity or running water, life in the ascetic, dirty, hut-like structure did not work, and neither did its marriage."

In the late '60s and throughout the "70s, when he twice went to college Governor and two-time candidate for the United States Senate as a member of the left-wing, but noisy Liberty Union Party, Sanders worked sporadically as a carpenter and freelance writer and eventually sold filmstrips on largely regional history to schools. "He was always poor," friend Sandy Baird told me. Sanders collected unemployment during one of his political campaigns, borrowed gasoline money for his battered VW Beetle bat and dangled extension cords to share power with a neighbor on the ground floor. He was driven out. He did not seem too worried about it. "Everyone has to make sure he survives, so money was obviously a problem," recalled Linda Niedweske, a nutritionist at the time, who met Sanders and later became a political consultant. "But it was never an overarching goal." Colleague Dean Corren agreed. "I do not think he ever really worried about it," he said.

"He did not take care of clothes," said Tom Smith, a progressive activist and former city councilor. "He did not care about his car."

In this regard, John Franco, a longtime confidant who has known Sanders since the '70s, suited many innately frugal citizens of his adopted home. And it's more than that, Franco added. It's not just that he did not want to spend money and wanted. "He does not want to be disturbed ."

Sanders also used his meager means to underpin his political goals, and almost used them as a kind of authenticator for the core of his lodge-like view of the Haves and Have-Nots. He denounced "a United States Congress made up of millionaires." He said again and again that it was not right that his elected representatives "disproportionately serve the interests of corporations and large corporations – their fellow millionaires" [19659004] in 1974, when he led one of his quijotic campaigns for the Senate, He was practically more against Nelson Rockefeller than against his actual opponents. And in 1976, when he published his financial disclosure as governor's candidate, he added a brief statement that was not actually an apology but an overconfidence. "Unfortunately," he said, "there's not too much to report, and I'm currently worth about $ 1,100, including a 1967 savings account and car. I have no real estate, stocks or bonds."

This stalwart stance was necessarily more local when he became mayor in the autumn of 1980. The election of Ronald Reagan led to a more conservative, pro-business approach at a national age, Sanders prioritized tenant rights, pledged no increase in property taxes and pledged a "human-centered" waterfront instead of one Enclave of expensive condos. "I believe that if current trends continue, the city of Burlington will be transformed into an area where only the rich and upper middle class will be able to," he wrote in a rippling newspaper in the UVM files are affordable to live. "He knocked in the cold in the cold ren counties door to door.

"Having no money, he was able to identify with these people," Garrison Nelson, a professor of political science in Vermont and a veteran of Sanders, told me, "and they were able to identify with him."

He would go to a house where people were quite poor, "former councilor Gary De Carolis said," and he would be absolutely at home.

He won by 10 votes. His new job had an annual salary of $ 33,824, a lot more than $ 100,000 today and more easily earned than ever before. "It's so strange to just have money," he marveled to an Associated Press reporter.

Almost a year after taking office, he bought a new car, a silver Honda Civic station wagon – he paid $ 6,400 and got three out-of-year loans, the monthly payments of $ 239.69 after recording the transaction in his Has promised files. After three fender bends he would regret the splendor. "I knew I should never have bought a new car," he said New England Monthly .

Getty Images; Source: Roll Call's Wealth of Congress, 2018.

And shortly after his first re-election, in 1983, he felt perhaps safer and more encouraged and finally stopped renting. With a $ 49,500 mortgage – records do not show what he has laid down, or the total price of the sale – he bought a two-story, six-room, 1,900-square-foot house on Catherine Street, one mile south of City Hall. The decor remained spartan. "Not much furniture," De Carolis recalled. The fact that the Socialist Mayor only owned a house nevertheless induced some critics, Tut-Tut, and even then. "I remember left-handers criticizing Bernie when he bought his first house," Franco said, "when he did this he was a civic sell-out."


" My Political Philosophy " Sanders wrote in one of his notepads and underlined his chicken scratch in the mid-'80s.

"Ultimately I believe in democracy, that we should live in a society where all of our citizens decide what happens – and in the all of our citizens the fruits of their labor In practice, the development of a democratic society in our country would mean a much higher level of citizen participation, public ownership of production and a far more even distribution of wealth and power. "

He continued," I believe that 200 people years after the 1st American Rev. – we need a 2nd American Revolution. "

In these private writings he regularly returned to this topic.

"There is much confusion in this country about what politics is all about," he said, "What did not matter: advertising, television, what a candidate looks like," crazy debates between Dems and representatives, the same No, "he said," There are winners and losers in politics, "Sanders believed, and the losers were" the majority of our population, working day in, day out, year after year, and often not in the bank has what she could prove for her years efforts.

These were the people he wanted to represent.

"My view of politics," he wrote elsewhere in his notes, "is that you can not always represent everyone. On which side are you? The class question is the main problem.

Obviously, when he was mayor, the monomania of Sander's theory and rhetoric did not change – but something else about him definitely did, because in hindsight, one step in improving his personal finances was, in a sense, a stabilization of the city. 19659004] Surprising skeptical and even timid local businessmen who surprised both Republicans and Democrats in the City Council surprised his friends and many even said to themselves: "The Socialist Hizzoner," as [Boston] named Boston Phoenix proved He is not a donor, "said Peter Clavelle, one of his top economists, who eventually succeeded him as mayor." He was indeed a fiscal conservative who was right to the resources of the city well managed. "

With the help of an accomplished treasurer at accountant Jonathan Leopold Sanders noted an unexpected surplus of $ 1.9 million, with which he paved roads without raising taxes. When he decided to complete the town's fuel and insurance contracts, initiate the city council's first audit for almost 30 years, and streamline collaboration between departments, he saved hundreds of thousands of dollars. He increased the fees for extensive building permits. He increased the tax on commercial real estate, but the ads of the opponents, according to which Sanders "does not believe in free enterprise", remained unchanged. From his office on the third floor with a poster by Eugene Debs on the wall: "Unionist. Socialist. Revolutionary, "it said, he had created an economic task force, which has led to the creation of the Office for Community and Economic Development. "I believe that Burlington probably has no more important issue than the issue of economic development," he wrote in the announcement of the project.

"The republican administrations acted like a big corporation." Sanders said in an article in the New York Ithaca Times that there was little difference between the two major parties Ideas We were lucky enough to inherit and renew this dying system. "

"The socialist mayor presides over a spell of prosperity," headlines Hartford Courant in 1985.

City officials sometimes claimed that Sanders was "out-republican against the Republicans."

Trotskyists for Sound Housekeeping, "they joked.

The" Red Mayor in the Green Mountains, "as he was called Rolling Stone first became with 53 percent of the vote re-elected, then 55 percent in 1985 and 56 percent in 1987.

If he wanted to talk about what he really wanted to talk about, then also about income and wealth inequality and the burgeoning American "oligarchy." As a foreign policy official, he knew, his advisers and friends, that he was primarily the dollars and cents in Had to bring order. "If he did a good job there," De Carolis said, "then he could talk about what's going on in Nicaragua, but he could not talk about the inequalities in different parts of our country if he did not take care of that home front . "

That was him, wrote Bill Conroy in the foreword to his 1990 book, Sanders, which began as a doctoral dissertation in the 1980s, a" pragmatic socialist. "

" Bernie himself may have been a good financial manager or not, "said Steven Soifer to me, today chairing the Department of Social Work at the University of Mississippi and author of a book on Sanders' time as Mayor of 1991." However, "said Soifer," Bernie had always the ability to surround yourself with very competent, sometimes brilliant people. "

One of them was Bruce Seifer, a senior official in the Office for Community and Economic Development or CEDO "It's about fairness and democracy with a little 'd'," he told me. "They run the government effectively and efficiently, number one, and then make sure everyone does the work they want to do, and everyone pays their fair share of taxes." But Sanders was at the top. "And the thing is, he's not a radical," Seifer said. "He's just like your sensible uncle."

Looking back the last two years of the '80s can be considered the beginning of the remainder of Sanders. Life – because at that moment he really began to use traditional tools of the capitalist financial system of the country to consolidate.

In May 1988, he married former Jane O'Meara Driscoll, a divorced mother of three children who had been his life companion all along, he was mayor and at the same time director of the youth bureau of his administration. And this summer and fall, just before the end of his fourth and final term in town hall, he stood as an independent candidate for Congress – and lost. However, he lost only 3.7 percentage points and defeated the Democrats. It was the first time in his career that he became a realistic choice in a nationwide race. "A real breakthrough for him," Nelson, the UVM professor, told me. It was an indication of what would come.

At that time, however, that was all – latent potential in a moment more marked by unknowns and discomfort. Sanders took his time wondering if he should pay for gigs. In January 1989, he contacted the head of the sociology department at Hamilton College, four hours away in Clinton, New York. "I believe," Sanders wrote to Dennis Gilbert, "that I could offer your students an unusual academic perspective." After spending a semester as a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he taught courses on urban sociology and social democracy in Hamilton. Sanders relied on the last batch of his salary as mayor and made speeches to colleges and universities, earning more than $ 45,000 in 1989, given inflation and the rising cost of living, which he practically did not deserve when he was first mayor. He stared at 50, considering another shit of congressional request, and got annoyed. "In Hamilton," said Steve Rosenfeld, his spokesman for 1990, "Bernie often entrusted Dennis and said he was worried about his future career and financial security."

Sanders and his new wife responded by pooling resources. Central to their efforts? One of the most reliable ways millions and millions of Americans have tried to improve their financial assets: real estate.

In September 1988, according to local real estate reports, Jane Sanders initiated a range of activities, transforming the house she owned on Isham Street into a house that she owned – and legally changed ownership of "sole proprietorship "To" Jane O "Meara Sanders and Bernard Sanders, husband and wife, as tenants in total" Two days later, they used the house to raise a $ 50,000 mortgage. After a three-line record of the transaction in the Burlington Free Press Sanders sold the house he bought in 1983 with a $ 49,500 mortgage for $ 82,000 in February – a nice return on his first investment. Less than three months later, after Bernie and Jane Sanders left the "more urban" part of Burlington and settled closer to picturesque Lake Champlain, they received a $ 140,000 mortgage for $ 175,500 for a three-bedroom two-bathroom apartment, Not quite -1,600-square-foot house on Killarney Drive – "a red-paneled, box-shaped house on two levels," as Rosenfeld would describe it, "that could be in every bourgeois suburb in America." Barely more than a month later, they sold the house on Isham for $ 135,000.

In 1990, sometimes in a blue blazer with missing button, he worked in a narrow basement office in the Killarney House, which had plywood tables, a painted window, and green glued interiors. Sanders tried again, Vermont's only seat in the house to win – and this time too. After his victory he was a mixture of jubilation and indignation. "I'm not an insider," he said. "I know who I am, I know where I'm from, I do not need to get down on my knees and ask rich people for help." After annoying members of the congress two years ago for their self-roll call – "completely incomprehensible "He annoyed himself in a letter he wrote to the three members of the Vermont Congressional delegation, which he published with a Mayor's press release – Sanders earned significantly more than ever: $ 125,100 a year.

In the first half As the Democrats in Washington tried to navigate through the political terrain of that time, the election of Bill Clinton brought with it the rise of an increasingly virulent, non-partisan Newt Gingrich-referenced Sanders & # 39 Prospects were far from secure, and he used his house to hedge his stakes They re-funded themselves in 1991 and 1993, both times with mortgages higher than the ones they had agreed in 1989 – $ 140,500 in 1991, and $ 145,600 in 1993.

Sanders settled in London However, as an increasingly solidifying political presence in Vermont. His race in 1994 was the last he could really have lost as he solidified his status and safety.

In 2000, with a real estate boom afoot and a $ 62,100 mortgage, he and his wife bought an essence of their first home away from home – a condominium in Burlington, which, according to Weaver, originally meant for Jane Sanders' older mother bought and used at times as a place for a large family or as a rental property.

In 2004, Jane Sanders was hired as President of Burlington College, a small, mediocre college of liberal arts. Her tenure would end with a six-figure salary, after she decided to expand her campus with a $ 10 million land purchase that paralyzed the institution. She resigned in 2014 and received a $ 200,000 settlement, known as the "Golden Parachute." In 2016, the debt-filled college finally closed, in the words of Jane Sanders successor. 19659004] In the meantime, Bernie Sanders career went in the opposite direction – upwards. In 2006 he was elected to the Senate. In 2007, when his Congressional salary was now $ 165,200 and he was building the apartment and home in Killarney, quietly climbing some financial steps, when far fewer people were paying attention, Sanders, headquartered in a rising real estate market, bought a line in Washington for $ 489,000 US dollars at home.

And in 2009, when markets collapsed and half of the 100 senators still had at least $ 1 million in value, Sanders' estimated net assets were $ 105,000, down the street, according to the Center for Responsive Politics Senate prosperity chart. Back in Burlington, Bernie and Jane Sanders returned to homes with a $ 324,000 mortgage to buy an upgrade for $ 405,000 to Van Patten Parkway. (Interestingly, they bought the house from their son David Driscoll and his wife.) In 2012, Driscoll and his wife bought the Killarney House from Jane and Bernie Sanders for $ 265,000, virtually exchanging houses, Driscoll said, Weaver wanted living in "his childhood home.") In 2013, Bernie and Jane Sanders refinanced the Van Patten house and raised a mortgage of $ 312,275 from just over $ 700,000, which is a financial picture, according to CRP calculations total assets in his name and his wife's liabilities from a pair of mortgages and credit card debt were between $ 25,002 and $ 65,000. It made him, then spokesman, a "normal American". Perhaps more "normal" than it should have been: According to the Federal Reserve, the average household in 2015 had credit card debt of about $ 10,000. [19659004] "Unfortunately," Sanders said during his 2016 election campaign with the same effacing opening clause and the same tone he had in his financial disclosure of 40 years earlier, "I remain one of the poorer members of the US Senate." [19659004] But it was a useful tone for the policy he always practiced.

He almost compared his finances with those of the leading Hillary Clinton, she of the high-dollar fees. "That kind of wealth," he said, "has the potential to isolate you from the reality of the world."

It was not long before unprecedented money came in to Sanders.

*** [19659004] As I drove from address to address I recently did a short, self-guided tour of Sanders' houses here in Vermont's Queen City, from Catherine via Isham Killarney after Van Patten led years after the slow rise of the socialist in the upper class. Ich starrte auf sein Auto, einen roten 2010er Chevy Aveo, der in seiner Einfahrt geparkt war.

Dann fuhr ich jedoch eine Stunde weiter nach Norden, um den bukolischen North Hero, etwa 20 Meilen südlich der kanadischen Grenze, zu sehen von der wirtschaftlichen Höhe, auf die Sanders aufgestiegen ist – das dritte Haus, das Sommerhaus, das Haus mit rustikalen Holzseiten und einem silbernen Blechdach und vier Schlafzimmern und einer 500 Fuß langen Uferpromenade, die Bernie und Jane Sanders für 575.000 Dollar in bar über eine Bank gekauft haben Entität, die sie erstellt haben, heißt Islands Trust. "Janes Idee war es, etwas zu haben, das über Generationen hinweg in der Familie bleiben würde", sagte Weaver, "und diese Art von Struktur war der Weg, um dies zu erreichen."

Frühere Pferde und Silos und Campingplätze und Apfelplantagen, Es befindet sich am Ende einer privaten Schotterstraße, versteckt hinter einer Ansammlung von immergrünen Pflanzen und blickt auf das weite, strahlende Blau des Champlain-Sees.

In den letzten vier Jahren hat sich viel verändert. Im Jahr 2015 hatte Sanders diese Kreditkartenschulden und zwei Hypotheken im Bereich von 250.001 bis 500.000 US-Dollar. Im Jahr 2016 war die Kreditkartenschuld weg und eine dieser Hypotheken war halbiert worden. Bis 2018 blieb nur eine der Hypotheken übrig; In jenem Januar zahlte er, wie Aufzeichnungen belegen, die Reste seiner Hypothek in Höhe von 312.275 USD für sein Haupthaus in Vermont aus.

2015 veröffentlichte er ein Buch mit dem Titel The Speech im Grunde eine Abschrift seiner denkwürdiger Filibuster 2010 auf (was sonst?) Unternehmensgier, Einkommensungleichheit und dem Niedergang der Mittelklasse. Sanders verdiente 3.035 Dollar, die er für wohltätige Zwecke spendete. Im Jahr 2016 begann sich das Buchgeld zu häufen. Er erhielt einen Vorschuss von 795.000 USD, um Unsere Revolution zu schreiben. Er steckte zusätzliche Lizenzgebühren in Höhe von 70.484 US-Dollar ein. Im Jahr 2017 beliefen sich die Buchgebühren auf 880.091,14 USD. Und letztes Jahr, als sie einbrachen, waren sie immer noch ein Haufen Geld: 392.810,37 USD.

Auch die Steuererklärungen der Sanders erzählen die Geschichte: Von 2015 bis 2018 stiegen ihre Gesamteinkommen von 240.622 USD auf 1.073.333 USD auf 1.150.891 USD auf 566.421 USD . Some of that, along with money from a retirement account, according to Jane Sanders, plus proceeds from a sale of a share of a family home of hers, helped pay for the nice place on the lake that I sat and looked at while listening to birds chirp in the chill of spring here in the northern reaches of New England.

“Bernie is a known quantity in any socialist paradise,” GOP consultant Rick Wilson told me, “the party apparatchik with the dacha …”

This kind of characterization makes Sanders’ friends and others who’ve known him for years all but roll their eyes.

“He’s still the same cranky guy,” said Terje Anderson, the chair of the Vermont Democratic Party. “I run into him at Hannaford shopping for groceries.”

And in his cart, I asked, aren’t the finest meats and cheeses?

“Hell no,” Anderson said.

“There’s no change,” Niedweske added. “His priorities remain the same.”

“I mean, I don’t think any of Bernie’s supporters said, ‘Oh, well, now that he’s made a lot of money selling a book … I can’t support him anymore,’” Terry Bouricius, a former Burlington city councilor and progressive who’s known Sanders since the ‘70s, told me. “No—I don’t think that happened to anybody.”

A spectrum of politicos I talked to don’t think this is that big of a political problem for Sanders. He has problems, actually, they said, that are bigger than his bottom line—his persistent lack of appeal to female voters and black voters, for instance, and his generally sagging poll numbers ever since an evidently formidable Joe Biden entered the race, and the slap-in-the-face mathematical fact that this time around he’s running against not only Hillary Clinton but 20-plus other Democrats. He is, in other words, no longer the beneficiary of the anybody-but-her voters.

“The least of his problems,” Marsh, the Democratic strategist from Boston, said of his wealth.

“Detractors will needle and pester and continue to push that argument,” said Joe Trippi, the Democratic strategist who’s been working on presidential campaigns for almost 40 years. “But I don’t think in the end it’s going to have much impact.”

“On the list of stuff that bothers me about Bernie,” said Stuart Stevens, the GOP consultant who was the chief strategist for Mitt Romney’s 2012 run, “the fact that he wrote a book and made some money doesn’t bother me at all.”

Ditto Democrat Bakari Sellers.

“I’m not going to sit here and shit on Bernie Sanders for being a millionaire,” the former South Carolina lawmaker and current Kamala Harris supporter told me.

Why not?

“I want to be a millionaire, too!”

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