Dark money has bolstered Bernie’s campaign from the start

By Andrew Kerr

An outside dark money group has boosted presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders since announcing his campaign last February.

Sanders founded Our Revolution, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group that can accept unlimited contributions without disclosing the identities of its donors, in 2016, and one campaign finance expert believes the group’s work to help Sanders achieve his presidential aspirations could be violating the law.

“Any entity established by a federal officeholder can only raise and spend money under federal contribution limits for any activities in connection with a federal election,” Paul S. Ryan, a campaign finance expert with the watchdog group Common Cause, told the Associated Press. “Our Revolution was undoubtedly established by Sen. Sanders, is subject to these laws — and is seemingly in violation of them.”

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Bernie Sanders founded Our Revolution in 2016, and the group is now leveraging its resources to elect him president.

Campaign finance laws state that groups “directly or indirectly established” by federal officeholders such as Sanders can’t “solicit, receive, direct, transfer, or spend funds” for federal electoral activity that exceeds the limitations of the law, which in Our Revolution’s case would be $5,000 per election.

Our Revolution, however, has sent dozens of emails in recent weeks to its supporters touting the work it’s doing to get Sanders elected. The group’s chairman, Larry Cohen, detailed in an email Monday how he had spent a week in Iowa mobilizing 5,000 volunteers to caucus for Sanders.

“Donate now to help us organize Obama/Trump voters and ensure that we nominate Bernie Sanders instead of a corporate Democrat who could easily lose to Trump in 2020!” Cohen wrote.

Our Revolution national political coordinator Sam Rosenthal wrote in an email in November: “[I]f we do our job, we will have the opportunity to vote for Bernie Sanders to become the next President of the United States … help Our Revolution elect Bernie Sanders and fight big money in politics up and down the ballot!”

Our Revolution’s efforts to support Sanders’s candidacy began long before he officially launched his presidential campaign in February. The dark money group characterized itself last January as a “grassroots army to help Bernie win the nomination if he decides to run” in an email to supporters amid its push to get Sanders to enter the race, according to Vermont news outlet Seven Days.

In February, after Sanders announced his candidacy, Our Revolution solicited contributions from its supporters to help it assist Sanders’s campaign by “deploying training materials to volunteers across the country.” Our Revolution spokeswoman Diane May said the group would do “the organizing work that it takes to elect Bernie president” as the campaign began staffing up, according to Seven Days.

Our Revolution has acknowledged the close bond Sanders shares with the group, starting with its founding following his failed 2016 Democratic primary campaign.

“After the 2016 election, Senator Bernie Sanders founded Our Revolution to build a powerful grassroots movement to challenge corporate control of our government,” Our Revolution Executive Director Joseph Geevarghese wrote in a fundraising message to supporters in December seeking donations to “continue to do the deep organizing necessary to elect President Bernie Sanders.”

Sanders’s wife, Jane Sanders, is also linked to Our Revolution. She was listed as a director of the group when it was initially founded in July 2016, according to incorporation records obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation. Jane Sanders stepped down from her role as Our Revolution’s chairwoman in August that year amid internal turmoil over the group’s structure as a dark money entity, ABC News reported.

In 2018, Our Revolution sublet some of its Washington, D.C., office space to Sanders’s 2018 Senate campaign, according to financial statements obtained by the DCNF.

Our Revolution subleased office space to Sen. Bernie Sanders Senate campaign in August 2018. (Our Revolution 2018 Financial Statements / Screenshot)

Our Revolution subleased office space to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Senate campaign in August 2018. (Our Revolution 2018 Financial Statements / Screenshot)

Our Revolution did not return an email inquiry seeking additional information on the sublease agreement it had with Sanders’s Senate campaign in 2018.

Sanders has directly interacted with Our Revolution during his 2020 campaign. He joined a conference call in September hosted by the dark money group to celebrate its third anniversary. He thanked the group for “doing some of the most important work that can be done in our country,” the AP reported.

Sanders also lists on his campaign website endorsements he has received from three board members of Our Revolution — Justin Bamberg, Jim Zogby and Larry Cohen —  but doesn’t disclose their affiliation with the dark money group.

Bernie Sanders did not disclose that Larry Cohen and James Zogby both serve on the board of Our Revolution on his endorsement page. (Berniesanders.com / screenshot)

Bernie Sanders did not disclose on his endorsements page that Larry Cohen and James Zogby both serve on the board of Our Revolution. (Berniesanders.com / Screenshot)

The Sanders campaign did not immediately return a request for comment asking why it did not disclose Bamberg, Zogby and Cohen’s affiliation with Our Revolution on its endorsement page.

Our Revolution received $9.5 million in contributions since 2016 through 2018, but unlike Super PACs, which Sanders often decries, the group is not required to disclose the identity of its donors. Our Revolution reported in its 2018 tax filing that it received contributions of $218,309 and $195,000, but didn’t list the name of the individual or group behind those donations.

Our Revolution 2018 Form 990, Schedule B (Screenshot)

Our Revolution 2018 Form 990, Schedule B (Screenshot)

Our Revolution does disclose on its website the names of donors who have given $250 or more in a single year, but it doesn’t disclose the exact amount each individual has given.

Both Sanders and Our Revolution issued statements to the AP denying any wrongdoing.

“Sen. Bernie Sanders and his presidential campaign, in accordance with Senate ethics rules, does not direct or coordinate with Our Revolution,” Sanders campaign spokesman Mike Casca said.

Our Revolution spokesman Paco Fabian differentiated his group’s activities from that of Super PACs, which often dump significant sums of money into television ads.

“We invest our money … in things like organizing and phone banks and canvassing voters on issues that matter,” Fabian told the AP. “We aren’t running ads or doing glossy mailers.”

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Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Lorie Shaull and Gage Skidmore

34 thoughts on “Dark money has bolstered Bernie’s campaign from the start

  1. Corrupticrat Comrade Bernard – budding Communist dictator financed by personal slush fund aka Our Revolution…conduit for the unlimited amount of Dark Money flowing into campaign quietly surrounds himself with domestic terrorists…soo…when he doesn’t have nom handed on gilded platter…what then? Will he unleash his personal standing Army, Antifa and assortment of mog thugs on Trump supporters as his point man has man has stated is planned? Stay tuned!
    O’Keefe: Bernie Sanders’ Iowa Field Director Bailed Kyle Jurek Out of Jail After Recent Arrest – Were Campaign Funds Used to Bail Him Out?
    Cristina Laila by Cristina Laila January 16, 2020 158 Comments

    Project Veritas this week released part 1 and 2 of their “Expose 2020” series showing a Bernie Sanders field organizer praising Joseph Stalin and saying he had a legitimate reason to use gulags.
    The Bernie field organizer called for the mass murder of opposition if President Trump wins reelection

  2. The true face of Comrade Sanders…hiring domestic terrorists and Antifa activists to run the field operation for his campaign:
    – BREAKING: O’Keefe Drops Part 2: Bernie 2020 Organizer, “There Are Things More Important Than the Rule of Law in US” – Secret Service Notified Over Trump Assassination Concern
    Cristina Laila January 15, 2020 194 Comments

  3. Sharing an email answer to my VA problems from a friend who read this article. This illustrates the difference between people in the East and West in the VA system. My VA problems are briefly mentioned herein. I have a Air Force buddy in SD. I’ve visited the Sturgis VA Center at Ft Mead. They also do dental work, but not at WRJ-VA.

    “I am really sorry that you have had such bad experiences with the VA.
    We are really fortunate with the one at Sturgis. Other vets we talk to there are just as satisfied as we are . You cannot believe how they have supported us through Jim’s illnesses. The pharmacists actually made appointments to call me, which they have , dozens of time regulating Jim’s medication…especially blood pressure . I know they have done this for others too. All those working in medical field never fail to thank the vet for their service and ask if you need help in the hallway.
    Perhaps that is good old South Dakota hospitality . Ha
    Could be those places in the East are like most easterners are ….. crabby, and burned out. Too many people to deal with and they are tired of it.”

    By the way, at Ft. Meade, an old Calvary outpost, there’s a historical sign noting that the Star Spangle Banner was first played there, above all other places. Ft. Meade (built 1878) info, if interested;

  4. “Dark money” financing Bermnie’s campaign???? How can that be??? Bernie has ranted and raved from the start that he is for the little guy. Heaven forbid Bernie would ever take so much as a dime from those folks. If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge going to Brooklyn that I can tell you for a song.

  5. I am a veteran and have many issues with the VA treatment of me and many other Vets. When Bernie was chair of the VA committee in the Senate, I wrote him about many bad-lousy situations. He was informed about Veterans dying on year long waiting lists. The answers I got from him was a big fat goosegg “O”. He’s all mouth “helping Vets” that was for the media. I still have problems with the WRJ VA and many VA offices in the country. It’s a bureaucratic nightmare, them vs the Vet. The medical staff is nice, but the controlling bureaucrats are the problem. Was told directly when I confronted them in WRJ “we are the government and we can do anything”. New problems appear monthly.

    Bernie a help and savior, god save us all. So much for the Liberal endorsement of him. How little they know.

  6. This is such laughable BS. You could of just came out and said that Bernie is being bought by big poor. That’s literally what you’re saying. Bernie literally has a ground called Our Revolution. It’s his group. It’s not a super pac, it’s an apparatus that helps progressives get elected. All of its members already support and donate to Sanders.

    • Nerve struck much? Lol! Comrade Bernard is in fact a misogynistic Marxist and consummate pathological liar…iow a *huge fraud*…who in fact owns several estates whilst purporting to run his campaign on small donations…hahahahaha…and he *will not win* bc the party decides and party bosses have rejected his communist crapola…suck it up

    • “Dark money” financing Bermnie’s campaign???? How can that be??? Bernie has ranted and raved from the start that he is for the little guy. Heaven forbid Bernie would ever take so much as a dime from those folks. If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge going to Brooklyn that I can tell you for a song.

  7. Mr. Kerr,
    I don’t know where to begin. There is so much fodder here. But I’m a white, 68 year old female, a grandmother, a retired teacher and I have been following Bernie for many years. He is as honest as the day is long. He has stayed right on point, standing up for the working class for many, many years. I think whatever your motive is for trying to discredit his campaign should be stated in your article. I won’t waste my time here. I just wanted you to know that people who vote for Bernie aren’t stupid. We’re only stupid for believing anyone else, such as so-called journalists who have some kind of grudge. Be well. We’ll make sure you can marry your friend (no matter what gender), never have to send your children to war, have insurance if you lose your job, and have clean air and water in your future.

    • Think again. Anyone that believes Bernie’s Bs. He’s a millionaire that is supposedly for the working man? Please.

    • Quoting ” I just wanted you to know that people who vote for Bernie aren’t stupid. We’re only stupid for believing anyone else,”. That says a lot.

    • Pam, I’ll just ask you one question. What has Bernie ever done of significance for this Country or the State of Vermont in all the years that he has been senator?
      He’s extremely good at just running his mouth.

    • I would have expected a teacher to see through the socialist lies and learn from history, rather than jump in head-first to repeat it.

    • Andrew Kerr’s article is nothing more then factual journalistic work. If you read the second paragraph it clearly states the articles intent. There was no secret motive. But I must be honest, and tell you that I have a secret motive for my reply. Contrary to what, Pam has stated, people are stupid, by definition, showing a great lack of intelligence and common sense, if they vote for Bernie, as well as other politicians with many of the same political views. I mean this with all sincerity.

  8. Bernie accepting dark money from a 501(c)????? How can that be??? Bernie is so up and above board about standing up for “the little guy”, he couldn’t possibly engage in any thing shady much less being illegal. Who does he think he’s kidding??

  9. OMG quoting: “Sanders’s wife, Jane Sanders, is also linked to Our Revolution. She was listed as a director of the group when it was initially founded in July 2016,”

    Isn’t she the astute one that bankrupt the college in Burlington? Got into that position, her name was associated with Sanders. She’s must be a financial whiz. Wouldn’t trust her with my checkbook.

    Then a head of a tax free foundation—IRS stuff and all. Then to compound her knowledge, quoting: “Jane Sanders stepped down from her role as Our Revolution’s chairwoman in August that year amid internal turmoil over the group’s structure as a dark money entity, ABC News reported.”

    More JS internal turmoil. If she wasn’t married to BS so she could change her name, she couldn’t sell pencils.

    Then in 2016 Prez elections she went after sheriff Joe Arpaia in AZ for his treatment of illegal Mexs having them wear pink underwear and living in tents eating bologna sandwiches. She had NO business, but she’s a Sanders.

    • Bernie also pressured the banker to give her the big fat loan that she procured for the college that she subsequently bankrupted.

    • But you would with a guy that’s filed bankruptcy how many times…how in the hell do you bankrupt a casino when it’s all rigged for the house to win…

  10. This is how you organize a tax loophole, benefit from it and not be classified as a “millionaire”. Somehow he’s hidden the values and buying 3-4 houses and expensive vehicles. If he wants to tax the “rich” seems like he classifies himself as not one.

    Notice he doesn’t go after his “rich” democratic political friends, Warren, Clintons, Biden, BO, Pelosi, (a few for instance). Peas of a pod,all. But Trump is the target. Has anyone of these mentioned give their salaries to charities as Trump has. Nope, it’s gimme gimme gimme. What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine, his and their motto.

    • Trump has a net worth in the billions. His tax bill(s he’s cut his taxes several times) has earned him tens of millions already. He certainly doesn’t need the 400k a year if he’s cut his own taxes so much that his entire family can make an extra 50 million or so per year.

      • I have no problem with people getting rich, they worked and earned it. Surely the tax system isn’t fair yo all and the afforders take advantage of it. I hate the system that keeps the poor poor. Need the Fair Tax.

        Each business started in a garage, mortgaging their assets in their belief they will succeed, the American way. Bernie wants to punish them for their prosperity. Bernie never did that, found government for his prosperity.

        Many start up businesses fail due to government obstacles, I know first hand and was told directly by a taxer “we are out to put small businesses out of business”. I persevered and lasted 26 years. Small businesses are the largest employers in the country for total employment.

      • Joshua, President Trump takes a $1.00 salary for president. He donates his $400K salary every year to charity. Comments like this just prove that many people should not vote because they have no knowledge. You can’t fix, legislate or out run stupid. If you are a Berniesta, you are an idiot. Sometimes the truth just hurts.

    • It’s a common thing the leftist are all aloud to get away with but Russia, Russia, Russia…. the two Terrorist Tlaib and Omar shady dealing with Qatar that go in shady accounts that are reveled but
      never investigated.. Even the king or should I say Queen pin
      AOC has been accused of as much but never brought to bear for the money shuffling.. her handler quit and it was swept under the rug..I’m sure burnee got first rate instructions from Hitlery when she bought
      him off..

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