Peter Schweizer, author of Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America’s Progressive Elite, president of the Government Accountability Institute, and senior contributor at Breitbart News, explained how Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) engaged in self-enrichment with campaign funds. He joined Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow for a special video-recorded edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily on Wednesday.
Partial transcript below:
MARLOW: I thought the person who came off worst in the book — believe it or not, even a little bit worse than Biden — is Bernie Sanders. We all knew that Bernie was the only socialist in America with three homes, one that is lakefront. The corruption, he’s dripping with it. It’s not just that he is inauthentic to be a socialist that’s worth at least $15 million with three homes, but it seems like he’s really been using legal loopholes to enrich himself.
One of the things I was laughing at, Peter, because we had a little book party for you yesterday, and there were maybe 50 or 100 books around, Bernie’s campaign used to buy gobs and gobs of Bernie’s book. So you donate to Bernie and then Bernie buys Bernie’s books, and that’s the pattern he had his whole life. So let’s start with Burlington College. This seemed like a legit fraud to me.
SCHWEIZER: Burlington college was — was, because it’s now shut down — was this sort of, let’s say, hippie college that had … financial troubles. It was kind of limping along, and they hired Jane Sanders, Bernie’s wife, to come on as president. They were very explicit; they said they brought on Jane because of who Bernie was and the connections that he has. So, Jane becomes president of the college. She’s being paid a very nice salary for a college that size, about $180,000 [or] $200,000 a year, and she’s very ambitious. She wants to expand the college. So she takes on these loans to buy additional property and buildings so she can expand the college.
Now, the problem is, on these bank loans that she applied for — the applications — she claimed several individuals had committed to making million-dollar or more contributions to the college, and that was essentially where she was the saying the money was going to come from for the loans.
After the college collapsed, people went back and asked those individuals [about the pledges], [and] they said, “I never pledged that money.” So this spawned the FBI investigation to look at [her]. Was she engaged in bank fraud by deceiving the bankers?
But the problem is even more direct in the sense that they take on this debt. They’re having financial difficulties, they’re limping along, they’re having cash flow problems. What’s going on while that happens? The budget of the college is like $3 million a year; Jane starts funneling money to a an unaccredited woodworking school that just happens to be run by her daughter, and she sends half a million dollars to this entity while her college is having these financial difficulties.
MARLOW: Unbelievable. Like a sixth of the budget. This isn’t a joke. “Not a joke,” as Joe Biden would say.
SCHWEIZER: It fits the pattern. We see this all the time: family members get hired.
MARLOW: Let’s talk about maybe the biggest reveal in the Sanders section, which is the media buying and Bernie finding a loophole to really — it appears — make himself incredibly wealthy, and we don’t even know how wealthy.
SCHWEIZER: One of the dirty secrets in Washington, DC, is — if you’re running for office — you do media buys. Alex, if you ran for the Senate and you said to me, “Peter, I want you to buy a million dollars in television ads.” I, as your media buyer, it would show up on the FEC filing that you gave a million dollars to my company. But the industry standard is, I’m entitled to 15 percent of that as a commission for myself, but that never shows up.
Well, Bernie apparently figured this out because Jane, his wife, became his media buyer for his congressional campaigns. So we don’t know exactly how much money she got, but we believe it was probably on the magnitude of $150,000. But the big money came when he ran for president in 2016, and there’s a lot of mystery here, but I think a lot of reason to be concerned because, this time, he’s running for president. He’s got all this money — he’s going to spend $83 million on media buys, 15 percent [of that] is about a $12 million commission.
MARLOW: Where did the $12 million go. Do we know who got it?
SCHWEIZER: We do not, but we have some clues. Here’s the troubling part. So that $83 million goes through a company called Old Town Media. Okay, great. Old Town Media. Well, Old Town Media doesn’t have a website, doesn’t really have other clients at this time, and it’s registered — the LLC of Old Town Media — to this private residential home in suburban Virginia.
MARLOW: That’s typical, right?
SCHWEIZER: Right, exactly. And then you find out who actually owns the home. It’s two old friends of Jane Sanders.
MARLOW: What? No. Not Jane Sanders again. She’s back. So, she’s a big character in this, so we assume that the Sanders’ are basically enriching the Sanders.
Schweizer went on to explain how Sanders “regularly” establishes nonprofits that employ his family members. “When [Bernie Sanders] sets up nonprofits, he usually puts a family member in charge,” he said. “They’re the highest-paid person.”
Schweizer highlighted Our Revolution as an illustration of a nonprofit “activist group” established by Sanders, which afforded the Vermont senator opportunities for self-enrichment by spending funds raised by the organization on media buys. About half-a-dozen “young idealists” who joined the organization, Schweizer explained, left the organization in protest.
As a senator, Sanders is second only to the late John McCain in terms of the volume of books he has written. Schweizer contrasted Sanders’ and McCain’s book-writing as senators.
“The only person that’s written as many books as him in the Senate is the late John McCain, and McCain, you could argue, had some war stories to tell,” said Schweizer. “[John McCain] did donate some of those proceeds to charity. Bernie does not do that. The biggest charity in Bernie’s life is Bernie.”
Marlow recalled Sanders’ political narrative of being a grassroots politician funded by small donors. “His army of small donors, Peter, you noted that sometimes his small donors is the same person, 50 times. [They] just donate 50 times, 50 different ways.”
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