The reelection campaign for Bernie Sanders spent more than $400,000 to travel on private jets during the midterm elections, Federal Election Commission filings show.
The Washington Free Beacon first reported on Sanders’s use of private jets in 2017 after he disclosed a payment of just under $40,000 to Apollo Jets, a New York-based company "dedicated to providing a luxury flight experience." The campaign stepped up its use of private planes in the campaign's final weeks, spending $297,685 with Apollo Jets for a nine-state tour at the beginning of October.
The campaign's latest filing, submitted to the FEC late last week, shows an additional $6,772.50 payment to Apollo Jets on October 30, bringing Sanders's total spending on private air travel to $403,024 for the midterm cycle.
Sanders's extensive use of private jets on the campaign flies in the face of his rhetoric on climate change, which he views as the "single greatest threat facing our planet." The transportation industry is viewed by many, including Sanders, as a major environmental culprit, given the volume of emissions produced by aviation.
The Sanders campaign has acknowledged the negative impact his use of private planes has on the climate, but defended it by pointing to its purchase of carbon credits to "balance out the emissions produced on this trip."
"The campaign purchased carbon offsets from Native Energy to support renewable energy projects and invest in carbon reduction projects to balance out the emissions produced on this trip," said spokeswoman Arianna Jones in an email on the $297,685 in private plane spending.
The campaign's latest filing indeed shows that it gave $4,980 on November 2 to Native Energy, a company that sells carbon offsets to corporations and campaigns.
It is unclear, however, whether the $4,980 purchase from Native Energy is intended to counter all the emissions produced throughout the course of the campaign.
Native Energy did not respond to an inquiry on whether it worked with the Sanders campaign to determine the amount of carbon offsets it believes the campaign would need to purchase to be carbon-neutral. A calculator on the company's website does not allow for users to specify that their travel was carried out on a private jet, which is significantly worse for the environment given the limited capacity of those flights.
The Sanders campaign spent at least an additional $143,492.81 to travel using commercial airlines, according to FEC filings.
The Free Beacon was unable to determine whether the $4,980 payment to Native Energy was intended to offset this travel as well.
The Sanders campaign did not respond to follow-up inquiries on the campaign's carbon footprint.