Bernie Sanders' Campaign War Chest Nears $3.9 Million | Off Message

Bernie Sanders' Campaign War Chest Nears $3.9 Million

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Sen. Bernie Sanders - FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
During the first three months of 2017, Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) campaign fundraising reflected his national ambitions. The unsuccessful presidential candidate-cum-progressive darling out-raised Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) combined — and outspent both by large margins, according to campaign finance filings submitted April 15 to the Federal Election Commission.

Nearly all of the $215,694 Sanders brought in came from individual donors, many of whom hail from outside of Vermont. Sanders, who eschews contributions from most political action committees, received $6,093 from two PACs: The League of Conservation Voters PAC, which supports environmental causes, gave $1,093, and the America Works PAC, which is affiliated with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), contributed $5,000.

More than 18 months before he faces reelection, Sanders has already accumulated $3,877,831 in his political war chest. That money could also be transferred to a presidential campaign fund, should he decide to run for the White House again in 2020.

The junior senator's expenses this quarter, which total $127,931, also underscore the fact that he's still in national campaign mode, nine months after losing to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. He paid $32,500 for website and fundraising services from Revolution Messaging, which ran his lucrative digital fundraising operation during that race.

And in addition to the typical expenses — salaries, event space rentals, catering, office supplies — Sanders' tab included airfare for trips to Texas, Arizona, Georgia, Philadelphia, Utah and West Virginia.

The jetsetting won't slow down anytime soon: In a recent fundraising email, Sanders asked supporters to donate to his Senate "reelection campaign" to pay for him to continue to bring his message to areas "often ignored by Democrats" — namely, outside Vermont.

Sen. Patrick Leahy - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy
Leahy, whose current six-year term ends in 2022, raised $81,485 during the past three months. Of that, 91 percent came from people, as opposed to PACs. He spent $92,509 — most of which, $50,000, went to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which assists candidate nationwide. By the end of the quarter, Leahy had $1,942,897 remaining in his campaign account.

In contrast to his Vermont counterparts, 97 percent of Welch's haul came from PACs. He raised a total of $28,095 — $27,250 of which came from special-interest groups.

Congressman Peter Welch - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Congressman Peter Welch
The largest donation, $5,000, came from the National Association of Convenience Stores. Pitching in $2,500 were the Action Committee For Rural Electrification, International Association of Fire Fighters, and the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association. Other Welch contributors included the massive law and lobbying firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, American Financial Services Association and American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Welch spent $37,888 last quarter, which leaves him with $1,918,043 in the bank. He faces reelection to another two-year term in 2018.


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