Bernie Sanders Made More Than $858k in Book Royalties Last Year, And He’s Keeping the Money

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By Jillian Kay Melchior | 8:46 am, June 5, 2017
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Bernie Sanders made more than $858,000 in royalties for two new books last year, according to the 2016 financial disclosure the senator quietly filed on Sunday.

And he’s keeping the money.

The disclosure provides new insight into how Sanders’ presidential campaign affected his own personal finances. It was due on May 15, but Sanders failed to file, instead seeking an extension. The book royalties were the most noteworthy new source of income Sanders reported in the election-year filings.

Most of that money, $795,000, comes from Our Revolution: A Future To Believe In, a book Sanders wrote for St. Martin’s Press. Published on Nov. 15, the book included Sanders’ account of the 2016 election. Hardcover copies sold for $27—the average amount contributed to Sanders’ presidential campaign.

Sanders also made 14 stops on a book tour to promote Our Revolution, receiving reimbursement from the publisher for airfare, ground transportation, lodging and meals, the financial disclosure says.

In addition, Sanders received $63,750 in royalties for a book that hasn’t yet hit the shelves: The Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution. The book seeks to help its teenage audience “learn more about progressive causes and how to mobilize around key issues they care about,” Teen Vogue recently wrote. Its publication date is Aug. 29, 2017.

In 2011, when Sanders published in book form the text of an eight-hour speech he delivered on the Senate floor, he donated all royalties directly to charity. But the new financial disclosure shows that Sanders is keeping the money earned from both Our Revolution and The Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution.

The financial disclosure also shows that Bernie and his wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, created a trust fund, Islands Family Trust, when they bought a $600,000, four-bedroom summer home in Vermont last August. The property includes 500 feet of shorefront access to Lake Champlain.

Sanders has also paid off some of his debt since 2015, the new financial disclosure shows. Back then, the senator reported Visa credit-card debt as high as $50,000– a liability no longer listed on his 2016 financial disclosure.

Sanders also appears to have paid down the mortgages for other properties; the 2015 financial disclosure reported that Sanders owed up to $1 million for two mortgages, but in 2016, that number dropped to $750,000. On Senate disclosures, politicians report their personal financial liabilities in a wide range instead of listing an exact figure, so the precise amount Sanders still owes is unclear.

Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute.

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