Reflecting on accusations of pay-to-play influence-peddling at The Clinton Foundation, Senator Bernie Sanders told CNN in March of 2016 that:
“It is obscene that Secretary Clinton keeps going to big-money people to fund her campaign..."
All of which makes the news, via AP, that the “nonprofit” think tank founded by Sanders’ wife and son is closing up shop after drawing criticism over the donations it’s been receiving all the more intriguing.
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.
As The New York Post reports, the Vermont-based Sanders Institute is looking to suspend all operations by May - “so there could not even be an appearance of impropriety” - now that the Independent state lawmaker is running for president, his wife explained Thursday.
The decision was reportedly made in late February after Sanders launched his campaign.
“I think that was the most important thing to do — to not accept donations,” said Jane Sanders in an interview with the Associated Press.
“Nobody should think that they’re giving money to an organization and that gains them access or favor to anybody else and anybody running for office.”
Jane Sanders told the New York Times that they “didn’t think about the Clinton or Trump foundation” when deciding whether it was right to stop taking donations.
“We just thought, I’m going to be very active [on the campaign trail],” said Jane, 69.
“It’s just too mushy — it could become too mushy. We wanted to safeguard it.”
Sanders’ Senate campaign has stressed that both Our Revolution and the Sanders Institute have independent boards and are not directed either by his presidential campaign or his Senate office. But some figures have crossed easily between the groups. Institute fellow and Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner recently resigned as president of Our Revolution to be co-chairwoman of Sanders’ presidential campaign.