Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) loves to denounce fossil fuels, but in a crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates he’s going to have a lot of explaining to do over his frequent use of private jet travel.
According to a Politico report, the Democratic socialist “repeatedly requested and received the use of a carbon-spewing private jet for himself and his traveling staff when he served as a surrogate campaigner for Hillary Clinton” near the end of the 2016 campaign. But his jet travel didn’t end there. In the two years after the election he continued to use private planes, spending at least $342,000 on them.
First among those to call Sanders out for his hypocrisy of using private air travel while addressing climate change and wealth inequality? Hillary Clinton's former 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, former director of rapid response for the Clinton campaign, told Politico.
The use of private air travel as he campaigned for Clinton became a problem, according to former Clinton campaign staffers, Politico reports.
Sanders’ flights — usually on a Gulfstream plane — cost the Clinton-Kaine campaign at least $100,000 in total, according to three people familiar with the cost of the air travel.
“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,” one of those sources said. “We would always try to push for commercial. ... At the campaign, you’re constantly trying to save like 25 cents.”
Prior to working out the logistics of Sanders’ travel, “our working assumption was that 90 percent of the time it would be commercial,” said another person familiar with the matter.“If he was trying to hop from city to city in a particular state and [commercial] didn’t work, we were open to” chartering a plane.
But that idea did not go over well with the Sanders camp, according to this person.
“At that time, getting him on board — no pun intended —and his followers engaged for her, was a big priority,” said one former Clinton staffer, who explained that campaign leadership, including campaign manager Robby Mook, decided it was something Sanders wouldn’t budge on, so the campaign approved the requests to keep peace with the senator. (Politico)
The Sanders campaign insists the use of private air travel during the campaign was only because of the demanding schedule of events Clinton's team requested he attend.
“The requests for a charter only came after the schedules were put in front of us. If a less rigorous schedule were put in front of us, we wouldn’t have needed a charter and that would have been fine for everyone involved, including Bernie,” his former deputy campaign manager told Politico, noting that “at no point did I ever say ‘he has to have a private plane for the sake of having a private plane.’”
Needless to say, Team Sanders was none too pleased by the latest criticism from Clinton's former staffers.
“[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," Michael Briggs, Sanders’s 2016 campaign spokesman, told Politico. “It doesn’t make me feel good to feel this way but they’re some of the biggest a**holes in American politics."