Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) is costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars each day for his Secret Service protection by staying in the 2016 presidential race and could end up billing the American people over $1 million if he does not drop out until after the Democratic National Convention this July in Philadelphia.
NBC’s Kirsten Welker reported Tuesday on the Today Show that Sanders is facing increased scrutiny for continuing to pursue the Democratic nomination because it is costing taxpayers large sums of money, especially because Hilary Clinton is now the presumptive nominee with an insurmountable lead in delegates.
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Welker described how the Secret Service is still protecting Sanders because he remains a presidential candidate, surrounding the senator as he walks through Capitol Hill and even installing a small watch station outside his home.
"Sanders’ decision to stay in the race is costing taxpayers an estimated $38,000 a day for Secret Service protection," Welker reported. "With 35 days until the convention, that could add up to $1.3 million if Sanders goes all the way to Philadelphia."
"That is a lot of unnecessary spending," one voter said, as some taxpayers are "fuming" at Sanders.
Sanders has so far ignored reporters who have asked him about the cost of Secret Service protection.
Both the Secret Service and the Bernie Sanders campaign refused to comment on the NBC story, according to Welker.
Much of Sanders’ campaign has been built on criticizing wasteful spending, fueling charges of hypocrisy and adding to the pressure that many people, including from within the Democratic Party, are putting on the Vermont senator to drop out.
Sanders surrogates, however, are standing behind their candidate, downplaying the Secret Service cost to the American people.
"I really wish people would not just focus on the Secret Service part of this but focus in on the broader service that Senator Sanders is providing," Sanders surrogate and former Ohio state senator Nina Turner told MSNBC.
The senator’s protection costs much less now that he is no longer attending large rallies every single day.
Sanders does not appear ready to bow out of the presidential race just yet, telling supporters recently during an online conference that "we must continue our grassroots effort to create the America that we know we can become."
Welker noted that Sanders is not the first candidate to be criticized over this issue. In 2012, a conservative taxpayers group asked then-candidate Newt Gingrich to drop out and end his Secret Service protection when it became clear that he would not win the Republican nomination, Welker reported.