Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has prided himself on powering his 2020 campaign on small contributions from individual donors, but new information about the nonprofit group he established calls into question whether a part of his operation is benefitting from larger donations.
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Our Revolution – founded by Sanders – is a nonprofit political organization that aims to boost voter turnout in his favor. It was “built upon the success of Bernie Sanders’ historic presidential campaign,” according to its website.
The group is permitted to raise unlimited funds from all types of donors, though it is not required to disclose them.
However, since Our Revolution was established by Sanders, it is governed by laws that prohibit it from raising and using donations above certain limitations for federal election activity, potentially putting the group in legal crosshairs.
Our Revolution has taken in nearly $1 million from donors who gave more than the limits and whose identities it hasn’t fully disclosed, according to tax filings for 2016, 2017 and 2018. Much of it came from those who contributed six-figure sums.
It won’t have to publicly reveal its 2019 fundraising until after this year’s presidential election. And the money it raises between now and then won’t have to be disclosed until the following year.
The money has financed a sprawling volunteer-driven operation to mobilize Sanders supporters that could be crucial to his chances of winning.
A spokesperson for Sanders’ campaign did not immediately return FOX Business’ request for comment. A spokesperson for Our Revolution told The Associated Press that the group has done nothing wrong and that unlike a conventional Super PAC, it invests in organizing efforts rather than advertising.
The money raised by Our Revolution pales in comparison to what Sanders’ campaign itself has raised. Sanders’ campaign haul in the fourth quarter was $34.5 million.
In an ad that began airing in Iowa – a key early primary state – last month, Sanders claimed he was the only “leading candidate” funded exclusively by grassroots donations.
A number of 2020 candidates swore off receiving contributions from big political action committees and large corporations, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
However, the reality is not so cut and dry. More than $10 million was transferred from Warren’s 2018 Senate campaign to her presidential one, which likely included money raised at events with high-net-worth donors from some of America’s largest companies, as reported by The Washington Post. The New York Times noted that her “big-money fundraising through 2018 helped lay the foundation for her anti-big-money run for the presidency.”
Sanders, meanwhile, transferred more than $4 million from his previous presidential campaign, when he had less stringent rules about donations.
In November, Sanders’ campaign announced it had received more than 4 million individual contributions, which made him the first candidate to reach that fundraising mark so quickly. Between July and September, his campaign raked in $25.3 million, which exceeded that of any of his rivals.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.