Bernie Sanders in 1970s: Millionaire Senators Are 'Immoral'

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders / Getty Images
April 24, 2019

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said it was "immoral" that members of the U.S. Senate were millionaires during a campaign in the 1970s.

Sanders's remarks were published in December 1971 in the Bennington Banner, a Vermont newspaper, CNN reports. Earlier this month, Sanders revealed he was a millionaire.

Sanders's presidential campaign acknowledged he made the comments.

"Yes, it is true: Senator Sanders said in the 1970s that it is immoral that the government too often represents the interests of the super-wealthy and large corporations—and yes, it is also true that Senator Sanders has continued to demand a change from that for his entire life," campaign spokesman Josh Orton said.

"As the son of an immigrant who grew up living paycheck to paycheck, Senator Sanders believes elected officials should represent the interests of working people, not corporations, special interests or the ultra-wealthy," Orton continued. "This view has guided his work in politics, not the pursuit of personal wealth. Senator Sanders' family has been fortunate, and he is grateful for that because he knows the stress of economic insecurity. That is why he works every day to ensure every American has the basic necessities of life, including a livable wage, decent housing, health care and retirement security."

Sanders's comments came during his campaign for Senate as a member of the Liberty Union Party, a self-described "radical political party" that advocated extensive nationalization of the economy.

Sanders said senators at the time served "the interests of corporations and big business ---- their fellow millionaires." He also proposed replacing legislators' annual salary with the average income in each member's home state.

"I think the result would be that this country would immediately stop wasting billions on weapons which never get off the drawing boards, and on the support of military dictatorships throughout the world," Sanders added. "I also have a feeling that a lot of tax loopholes that the corporations and millionaires receive would soon disappear."

In an interview earlier this month, Sanders embraced his millionaire status.

"I wrote a best-selling book," Sanders said. "If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too."

Sanders made more than $1 million in both 2017 and 2018, mostly from royalties from his book Our Revolution and the young-adult adaptation Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution.