Staff leaves even before Sanders can roll out new political group

Even before Bernie Sanders could roll out his new organization to fund progressive candidates and causes, it was beset with high-level drama, including the en masse resignation of eight staffers .

Sanders (I-Vt) promised when he conceded defeat and endorsed Hillary Clinton for president  that his dream would live on in a new organization called Our Revolution, which he unveiled in a live webcast Wednesday night.

The roll-out was anti-climactic. The organization was hit with a body blow when the eight staffers resigned before the announcement.  

Sanders set up Our Revolution as a tax exempt 501(c)4. That designation allows it to raise big donations from anonymous sources - so called dark money - something that staffers may have felt  clashed  with Sanders’ small donation ethos.  At least one election lawyer said it may be illegal. 

"If you or I wanted to get involved in mostly issue advocacy but  some candidate election work,  we could set up a {501(C)4} but Senator Sanders is different," said Paul Seamus Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center. "He's a federal office holder and we have laws that are intended to prevent corruption of federal office holders that apply only to federal office holders and candidates and that's what at issue here." 

Ryan added that Sanders is the only member of Congress to set up a fundraising operation as a 501(C)4. He suggested Sanders may simply have erred or he may have received bad advice in doing so. 

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But the mass resignation of staffers may also have been the result of Sanders hiring his former campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, to head the new organization.

The New York Times reported that Our Revolution employees accused Weaver of "wasting money on television advertising..." instead of targeting young voters online, and charges that he mismanaged campaign funds.

Weaver, who once described Sanders as a champion of "Truth, Justice and the American Way"  - the Superman tagline - owns a comic book store in Falls Church, Va. He did not respond to Fox News’ requests for an interview.

Sanders’ reputation has taken some other dings. The Vermont GOP  has written the Vermont Attorney General asking for an investigation of allegations Sanders exceeded Vermont's $1500 contribution limit for state senate races.  

"Sen. Sanders, who preaches against big money on politics, has used his five-million strong list in order to totally skew a local  senate race," said Brady Toensing, vice chair of the Vermont Republican Party. "He ended up inserting a record amount of money into this local race." 

The senator and his wife also just made a cash purchase of a $600,000 vacation house on the banks of Lake Champlain, his third home.

Doug McKelway joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in November 2010 and serves as a Washington-based correspondent. Click here for more information on Doug McKelway. 

Source:   foxnews
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