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Former Clinton Staffers Rip Bernie Sanders Over Private Jet Travel

Sanders spent more than $340,000 on private jets after 2016 election

Sen. Bernie Sanders / Getty Images
• February 25, 2019 1:55 pm

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Former staffers for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign ripped into Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) for his private jet requests, with one former staffer referring to him as "Royal Majesty King Bernie Sanders."

Sanders, who is running for president again in 2020, used private jets extensively after bowing out of the 2016 elections and endorsing Clinton, which ended up costing Clinton's failed campaign $100,000.

Sanders additionally continued to travel on private charters during the midterm elections using funds for his Senate campaign. Sanders has used the charters despite calling for a carbon tax on a number of occasions to help combat the "devastating problems" of global warming.

The rift that developed during the 2016 Democratic primaries between the Clinton and Sanders camps appears to remain to this day, and former Clinton staffers are now hitting Sanders for those private jet requests, which became a "running joke" to the staffers.

"I'm not shocked that while thousands of volunteers braved the heat and cold to knock on doors until their fingers bled in a desperate effort to stop Donald Trump, his Royal Majesty King Bernie Sanders would only deign to leave his plush D.C. office or his brand new second home on the lake if he was flown around on a cushy private jet like a billionaire master of the universe," Zac Petkanas, who was the director of rapid response for the Clinton campaign, told Politico.

"We would try to fight it as much as possible because of cost and availability of planes, but they would request [a jet] every time," another Clinton staffer told Politico. "We would always try to push for commercial. … At the campaign, you're constantly trying to save like 25 cents."

A third person familiar with the matter said that their "working assumption" was Sanders would fly commercial "90 percent of the time" and only would charter a jet when flying commercial would not be possible. Sanders allegedly would not budge on his private charter requests.

Arianna Jones, a spokesman for Sanders, responded to the criticism by claiming it was impossible for the senator to fly commercial in a short span of time. "At no point did I ever say ‘he has to have a private plane for the sake of having a private plane,'" his deputy campaign manager added.

Michael Briggs, Sanders's 2016 spokesman, fired back at Clinton and her staffers and called them "total ingrates" and "some of the biggest assholes in American politics."

"You can see why she's one of the most disliked politicians in America," Briggs said. "She's not nice. Her people are not nice. [Sanders] busted his tail to fly all over the country to talk about why it made sense to elect Hillary Clinton and the thanks that [we] get is this kind of petty stupid sniping a couple years after the fact."

"It doesn’t make me feel good to feel this way but they're some of the biggest assholes in American politics."

Clinton herself regularly used charter jets and racked up more than $15 million in charges with Executive Fliteways, a New York-based charter jet company, throughout the entirety of the 2016 campaign.

Sanders continued using private jets following the 2016 election cycle.

During the midterm elections, Sanders's Senate campaign dropped more than $340,000 on charter jets – more than $300,000 of that amount being paid out last October, according to filings to the Federal Election Commission.

Sanders's choice of charters comes from Apollo Jets, also a New York-based company. Apollo Jets has charters ranging from light jets, which seat six to eight passengers, to jumbo jets, its largest option that features commercial seating for up to 500 individuals or "plush business class chairs" for 50 or more individuals.

Sanders's campaign could not be reached for comment on his use of private charters following the 2016 cycle.