Odd question re Sanders visit to Vatican City

For accounting purposes is the cost of this trip a campaign or a personal expense?

The trip, according to Sanders’ mananger is not a calculated decision about the campaign and is above politics.

So then it is a personal expense?

I don’t know all the ins and outs but a US Senator being invited to a forum on economic issues doesn’t strike me as a “personal expense”. If this were a non-election year would anyone bat an eye if it was claimed as a government expense? You could call it a political stunt, but it’s not like he’s going to a political rally or directly campaigning.

I don’t have a cite handy but I understand he chartered a 767 for the flight which woudl have cost about $300k ($17k per hour) and that it was indeed being paid by the campaign. That’s a lot of $27 donations.

Lucky he’s got more than a lot!

If Bernie’s giving a speech (which he is), he’ll be campaigning. Book it.

The question is really academic, though. I’m sure he can find some way to fit it in under Congressional expenses.

If he was going to just take a normal flight then he could possibly call it a government expense but no way he can charter a plane. Of course, he has to charter a plane or it would fuck up his real press the flesh campaigning. So there’s no doubt in my mind that this will be paid out of campaign funds even if he publicly states it’s not a campaign event.

Yeah nothing to do with his campaign… that’s why he posted the invitation on his campaign’s feed.

I absolutely expect the flight expense to come out of his campaign funds. I suppose he could justify it as he wasn’t able to get a commercial flight because his campaign schedule, he had to be at the debate.

I find that campaign statement to be rather dishonest, no amount of spin is going to explain it away.

100% yes. Chartering a 767 to give a 15 minute speech to a couple of academics in Vatican City on a subject of personal interest and flying right back. More than eyes batted!

As you note -

I guess it is a GQ question really, but I suspect it would be kicked here if placed there. What are the laws regarding what you can use campaign funds for? If you explicitly state that something is NOT part of the campaign can you legally use campaign funds to pay for it?

I can find this (It’s a pdf; see page 51 and following.

IANAL and may be interpreting this incorrectly but ISTM that it is pretty critical for him and his team to honestly define this trip as part of his campaign and not something that he is doing out of personal outside the campaign interest.

Yes we all know it is but pretending that it is not can potentially get him to trouble that I do not think he wants.

I am hoping those with legal expertise will chime in.

You see the potential problems here

and here

He and his team are on record claiming that this is not intended for capaign purposes and that he was not giving a political speech. He went, he says, because it is something he cares about, unrelated to campaigning. If he is telling the truth it seems like it cannot be paid for out of campaign funds. Even if he is lying having stated that may give honest regulators no choice but to demand that he reimburse the campaign for the costs of the trip from his personal accounts.

Again, yes, I assume he is being disingenuous. But this disingenuity may come back to bite him hard. I hope someone on his campaign is smart enough to understand the potential implications of claiming so explicitly that this is not campaign related and fixes it before it hurts him personally after the fact.

And I am not being disingenuous here.

Oh of course not. You’re just askin’ questions. Lol.

No, seriously. Having the FEC come after him personally after the fact does not serve my interests and I hope they let it slide. Not only would it not serve my interests it would work against those interests as it is something that if it occurs would likely be during the general election cycle. Assuming the candidate is Clinton it would be a regrettable distraction at a point that I am still hopeful would otherwise see Sanders working to help defeat Trump/Cruz/player to be named later, and working to help win Congressional seats down ticket. If somehow that candidate was Sanders it would hurt my interests even worse.

JAQing would be asking how much CO2 that plane produced, and how much of other people’s money he spent, in order for him to give a 15 minute talk about the evils of greenhouse gases and the need for a moral economy! :slight_smile:

Pointing that out is just snide love of irony. Being concerned about his team going on record as claiming that something is not campaign related and then using campaign funds to pay for it? No irony there, but real potential legal issues. I think. But again, I do not know. How does the FEC view an explicit statement about the purpose of an activity?

Roiled in Partisan Deadlock, FEC Is Failing

That was a year ago and does not answer the question. Meanwhile the FEC has been looking lately to see that "t’s are crossed and "i"s dotted.

There was a stink made just before the 2008 election when Obama used his campaign jet to visit his sick grandmother in Hawaii. I seem to recall that some Republican group even went so far as to file an official complaint with the FEC. Don’t know what, if anything, ever came out of that, though.

It looks like the First General Counsel’s report (pdf) recommended dropping the charge. The defense seems to be that due to security and ongoing campaign operations using a commercial flight would have not been feasible and apparently the Secret Service recommended using the private plane.

That helps. Precedence that using campaign funds to do something not campaign related is okay if the demands of the campaign make it such that the means is required.

I am reassured. Thank you.

Bernie Sanders says private meeting with Pope Francis is not an endorsement.

“Longtime Democratic favorite?” Really?

I think you may have misread the quoted statement. I suspect that the meaning is
“he moved from [sup]1[/sup]gadfly to [sup]2[/sup]serious-challenger-to-the-longtime-Democratic-favorite (i.e., Clinton)”
“he moved from [sup]1[/sup]gadfly to [sup]2[/sup]serious challenger to [sup]3[/sup]the longtime Democratic favorite.”

Ahh gotcha. :slight_smile: