From everything I have heard about Senator Bernie Sanders over the years, I believe he is an honourable man who really cares about the common people. But I am concerned about recent reports involving his wife and money ... " a golden parachute".
Does Bernie Sanders statement (see below) answer the charges or is it just an attempt to divert attention from the questions?
I really like Bernie Sanders. I think he is a genuinely good man, and we know there are so few of them in politics anywhere in the world. I hope the truth will clear this shadow from his reputation.
Phyllis Carter's Journal - It is all about Justice
Sen. Bernie Sanders' bid for president is getting enough attention that Sanders is now showing up in poll numbers. He doesn't, mind you, show strongly in the polls, but he's there.
A McClatchy-Marist poll released Monday lists Sanders as receiving 4 percent support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents for the 2016 presidential nomination. Hillary Clinton leads with 64 percent, followed by Vice President Joe Biden at 15 percent and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 8 percent. Sanders fared better than Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's 2 percent and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb's 1 percent.
Sanders' 4 percent polling puts him in better stead than former Gov. Howard Dean was in at this stage during his 2004 presidential bid. In 2002, with two years to go before the election, Dean drew just 2 percent in a New Hampshire poll. A year later, Dean was tied for the lead with 26 percent. He would become the front-runner briefly before petering out.
Sanders, the Vermont independent senator, has said he has made no decision about whether he will run for president or whether he would run as a Democrat or an independent. MSNBC reported last week that Sanders is leaning heavily toward running.
Sanders is a frequent critic of the United States' wealthiest citizens.
In an attack ad scheduled to be released Thursday, Sanders is accused of hypocrisy. The ad includes a snippet of a Sanders' speech, in which he says, "They're able to manipulate a rigged system, tax breaks for them sending American Jobs all over the world, getting golden parachutes."
The ad alleges Sanders' wife, Jane, the former president of cash-strapped Burlington College, received a golden parachute of her own.
"When she left the faltering and cash-strapped Burlington college in 2012, she took $200,000 with her; that's almost four times what the average Vermont household makes in a year," the narrator of the TV ad says.
Shelburne businessman Skip Vallee spent $10,000 to purchase about a week's worth of airtime on WCAX. He says he wants viewers to call Sanders and demand the college's money back.
"Bernie has consistently said that these golden parachutes should not be allowed to happen and I think he should back up his rhetoric and give the money back," Vallee said. "There's no question that this is the ultimate of hypocrisy."
President George W. Bush appointed Vallee as an ambassador to Slovakia in 2005; he served for two years.
Sanders is laying the groundwork for a potential run for president in 2016.
Vallee says he may buy more media time locally, but doesn't plan on airing the ad in battleground states like Iowa.
"It wouldn't surprise me if the Hillary people or the Malloy people or the Biden people took a version of this in their own ads," Vallee said. "I'll leave that up to them."
Sen. Sanders declined our request for a phone interview, but his communications director says the ad stems from the pair's fight over gas prices. Vallee made a fortune in the gas industry. He co-owns Maplefields and a fuel distribution company. He's fighting Costco's efforts to enter the market on environmental grounds.
A statement from Sanders' office calls Vallee: "a millionaire who has crawled into the gutter and bought TV ads attacking Bernie's wife for a sabbatical she earned." The release continues, "Skip Vallee has ripped off customers for years at his Burlington-area gas stations that sell the highest priced gas anywhere in Vermont." It closes with, "this junior varsity version of the Koch brothers is dipping into his fortune to bankroll a smear campaign."
Vallee denies gouging customers, arguing some sellers in Southern Vermont are selling their product at cost or a loss.
We also reached out to Jane Sanders Wednesday but had not yet heard back when this story was published.
The full statement from Sen. Bernie Sanders:
"Bernie Sanders will not be intimidated by a millionaire who has crawled into the gutter and bought TV ads attacking Bernie's wife for a sabbatical she earned from a college where she was president for seven years. What this is all about is not complicated. Skip Vallee has ripped off customers for years at his Burlington-area gas stations that sell the highest-priced gas anywhere in Vermont. As of Wednesday, his gas stations in the Burlington area were charging 25-cents more a gallon than his station in Middlebury. His padded profit margins consistently have put northwestern Vermont among the most expensive places in all of America to buy gas. Vallee clearly doesn't like it that Bernie has exposed his ripoffs. He clearly doesn't like it that other Vermont leaders are joining Bernie's calls for real competition. So instead of treating his Vermont customers fairly, this junior varsity version of the Koch brothers is dipping into his fortune to bankroll a smear ad campaign. How pathetic."