Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist senator from Vermont, is a fierce critic of the affluent in America. That’s a bit rich, considering he himself is well off.
Sanders, 77, has, in fact, amassed an estimated $2.5 million fortune from real estate, investments, government pensions—and earnings from three books, including the 2016 hit Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In. “I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too,” he recently told the New York Times, striking a downright Trumpian note.
Since his bid for the Democratic nomination raised his profile in 2016, Sanders has released a book a year. In all, he has pulled in at least $1.7 million from the series, starting with Our Revolution (220,000 copies sold, according to industry tracker NPD BookScan) and then Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution (27,000) and finally Where We Go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance (26,000).
In addition to the books are his government pay and pension accounts. Sanders has collected a six-figure annual salary since he joined Congress in 1991, some of which he and his wife (who herself commanded hefty pay as head of now-defunct Burlington College) plowed into personal real estate. Then there are his pensions, which are based on income and years of service. With 28 years in office and a current salary of $174,000, Sanders is entitled to around $73,000 a year from the federal government for the rest of his life. If he were to sell that guaranteed income stream for a lump-sum pile of cash, Forbes figures he could get around $650,000 for it.
Before he was elected to Congress, Sanders ran a small business producing filmstrips on New England history for schools and served as mayor of Burlington, Vermont. From his time running Burlington, he gets another $428 a month from a city pension, which is worth roughly $50,000.
As with many Americans, the bulk of Sanders’ net worth is tied up in his home. Unlike most Americans, however, he owns three. In Burlington, he keeps a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath colonial that he purchased in 2009 for $405,000. Last year, after the hefty book profits started rolling in, Sanders paid off its 30-year mortgage, 25 years early. In D.C., Sanders owns a row house a short walk from the Capitol, which he bought in 2007 for $489,000. Forbes estimates he still has around $350,000 left on the mortgage there.
His vacation pad, however, was paid for in cash. Sanders made headlines when he snapped up a Vermont summer home for $575,000 less than two months after ending the 2016 campaign built on lambasting the rich. Sanders chose a tranquil, four-bedroom, three-bath home with 500 feet of shorefront access on Lake Champlain, 50 minutes north of Burlington. His wife, Jane, told the Associated Press that the couple financed the deal with Bernie’s book advance money, plus some of her retirement savings and proceeds from the sale of a cabin owned by her family.
Even after the big purchases, the couple has around $500,000 in cash and investments, including three retirement accounts owned by Jane Sanders. They might have even more cash on hand. If Sanders has been contributing a portion of his paycheck to the Thrift Savings Plan—essentially a 401(k) program for government workers—he could be sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional wealth. But the government doesn’t require politicians to disclose such holdings.
What does Sanders, the scourge of the wealthy, have to say about his own wealth? He is uncharacteristically silent: A Sanders spokesman didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.
With the millions pilling up, Bernie Sanders could have a new problem to worry about: Bernie Sanders. In January, he proposed new taxes on “the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans,” including a 45% tax on estates worth between $3.5 million and $10 million. Given his recent success, that tax might soon apply to his own fortune.
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