Sanders Collected $858K in Book Royalties Last Year, Making Him a One-Percenter

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Rodham Clinton
Bernie Sanders laughs with Hillary Clinton / AP
June 5, 2017

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) made more than $858,000 in royalties last year for two new books, placing him in the top one percent of income earners in the United States.

Sanders quietly filed his 2016 financial disclosure on Sunday, shedding light on how his failed presidential campaign and royalties from two new books affected his personal finances, Heat Street reported.

Most of that money, $795,000, comes from Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, a book Sanders wrote for St. Martin's Press. Published on Nov. 15, the book included Sanders' account of the 2016 election. Hardcover copies sold for $27—the average amount contributed to Sanders' presidential campaign.

Sanders also made 14 stops on a book tour to promote Our Revolution, receiving reimbursement from the publisher for airfare, ground transportation, lodging, and meals, the financial disclosure says.

The Vermont senator also received $63,750 in royalties from his new book that has not hit the book shelves yet. Teen Vogue wrote last month that his new book, The Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution, set to come out this summer, aims to help its teen readers "learn more about progressive causes and how to mobilize around key issues they care about."

The former presidential candidate is a self-declared socialist who has frequently criticized millionaires and billionaires, as well as income equality. In the Democratic primary last year, Sanders blasted opponent Hillary Clinton several times for the large sums of money she received for her Wall Street speeches, saying that they "must be brilliant, earth-shattering speeches" for her to get paid so much.

Sanders has also castigated Americans in the top one percent of income earners, arguing they control too much of the country's wealth at the expense of everyone else.

"It is not moral, it is not acceptable, and it is not sustainable that the top one-tenth of one percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent," he said last year at the Democratic National Convention.

Sanders' book royalties from last year put him well above the threshold to be in the top one percent of income earners in the U.S., however. The income threshold required to be in the top one percent nationally is $389,436, according to the liberal Economic Policy Institute, less than half of what Sanders collected in royalties.

Sanders published in book form the text of his eight-hour filibuster speech on the Senate floor in 2011, donating all royalties directly to a charity. The senator's new financial disclosure, however, indicates that he is keeping the money this time around, according to Heat Street.

The financial disclosure also shows that Bernie and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, created a trust fund, Islands Family Trust, when they bought a $600,000, four-bedroom summer home in Vermont last August. The property includes 500 feet of shorefront access to Lake Champlain.

Sanders has also paid off some of his debt since 2015, the new financial disclosure shows. Back then, the senator reported Visa credit-card debt as high as $50,000—a liability no longer listed on his 2016 financial disclosure.

Sanders also appears to have paid down the mortgages for other properties; the 2015 financial disclosure reported that Sanders owed up to $1 million for two mortgages, but in 2016, that number dropped to $750,000. On Senate disclosures, politicians report their personal financial liabilities in a wide range instead of listing an exact figure, so the precise amount Sanders still owes is unclear.