Not Us, ME: How Bernie Sanders Got Rich by Running for President

Raise your hand if you got rich by running for president.

I have been known to point out similarities between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, whether these similarities come in the form of being able to inspire cult following, drawing and ginning up palpable anger among crowds largely white and mostly male, or refusing to release tax returns for the American people to see as they run for the highest office in the land.

It's been mentioned that in 2016, Donald Trump ran for president not to be president, but because he thought it would be "the greatest infomercial in political history." Basically, Donald Trump ran for president because he thought it would be a great way gain notoriety so he could make more money. That's why he was negotiating a deal for a Moscow Trump Tower throughout the 2016 elections.

It turns out that while Trump actually became president thanks to his Russian benefactors, at least one of his fellow candidates made good on Trump's idea of turning a presidential run into a self-enriching racket: Bernie Sanders, who saw his non-federal income grow by more than 100-fold.

Bernie Sanders bought his third home in August of 2016, shortly after losing the Democratic nomination and scoring a book deal - a book deal that would dramatically change Sanders's family balance sheets. Incidentally, multiple homes appear to be a necessity for the socialist man of the people, as he seeks to simultaneously run for different offices with different party affiliations using different addresses.

Even though Bernie Sanders has thus far refused to release his tax returns - despite promising to do so 16 days ago - we can gather a fair bit of the picture about the cash that has been pouring into Sanders's bank accounts since he ran for president thanks to a little thing called the Ethics in Government Act. It requires certain financial from all members of Congress, executive department heads, and congressional staff making above a certain amount have to file on an annual basis. An online searchable database of the disclosures by senators is available at The House and executive departments have similar databases, for anyone who would like to verify my calculations.

When it comes to income, the financial disclosure requirements only force officeholders to reveal how much money they - individually - made in earned income from sources other than their government paychecks. Spousal income greater than $1,000 is required to be reported, but only as a range, as is unearned income from sources like investments. So for our purposes, I have chosen to only deal with the candidate's personal earned income.

In 2015 as a mere US Senator, Bernie Sanders reported about $5,000 in earned income outside his federal government salary, and the lion's share of that came from a pension he receives as former mayor of Burlington, VT. The prior two years showed very similar numbers. Watch what happened to Sanders's personal, non-federal salary, income once he ran for president the first time.

As one can clearly see, Bernie Sanders' non-federal personal earned income went from hovering around $5,000-$6,000 a year to about $885,000 a year once he ran for president. That is an eye-popping increase of almost 150 fold.

That, ladies and gentleman, is what getting rich by running for president looks like.

While I am, as far as I can tell, the first to put it in this perspective, I am not the first to report Bernie's insta-million-dollar-income-earner status in the aftermath of his last presidential run.

A lot of Bernie's fellow candidates for the Democratic nomination have to file the same disclosures, so we decided to take a look at who's making how much. Bernie Sanders is - by far - the highest individual income earner in the field, raking in $1.06 million just by himself in 2017.

Now, I know the response. Bernie made money from a book deal! That doesn't prove he got rich from running for president! Yes, it does.

Sanders's book deal is certainly predominantly responsible for his new riches, and I have a waterfront property in Arizona to sell to anyone who believes Bernie Sanders could have scored a book deal as lucrative as the ones he did without having run for president and exploiting that notoriety.

Not to mention one of the books he wrote was released a week after Trump's election, exploiting the shock and pain the progressive movement was reeling from to New York Times Bestseller list. It's unlikely that Sanders's book would have sold as many copies as it did in the initial weeks had Clinton won the presidency. The timing of the release makes a good case that, once he lost the primary, Sanders had a vested financial interest in Trump's victory. And given his perchant to run again in 2020, perhaps a vested political interest as well.

It should be noted that in modern memory, no serious contender for the Democratic nomination who's lost a primary has ever released a campaign memoir this soon after the general election.

But haven't other presidential candidates got book deals? Like, what about Hillary Clinton's election memoir? Well, first, Hillary Clinton's book was published in September of 2017, not November of 2016. Second, Hillary Clinton was a bestselling author long before she ever ran for president. Third, Hillary Clinton's book was actually good and sold more copies in its first week than Bernie's had in 10 months. And last, Hillary Clinton actually won more votes than both of her top challengers.

There should be little surprise, though, that Bernie Sanders gets rich by running for office. This is what he has done his entire adult life. He was a deadbeat dad while he ran and lost several elections before being elected mayor of Burlington in his 40s. Then he ran for governor and lost, and ran for Congress and lost, before winning a seat in the House when the NRA dumped his Republican opponent. This is what Bernie Sanders does. He's a perpetual, professional office seeker.

And in 2016, he caught on among a section of the population. Almost as soon as he caught on, Bernie Sanders cashed in.

The 2016 election was horrifying and painful not just to the progressive movement and to the Democratic party, but to the country. But Trump's election has brought extraordinary financial benefits to the nation's most well-branded socialist.

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