Big story on VTDigger a few days ago, detailing the weird secrecy around much of Bernie Sanders’ campaign spending.
The campaign funneled a cool $82 million through an obscure media-buying firm located in a suburban DC house. Old Towne Media LLC did the media buys for Sanders — despite having no track record to speak of. $82 million is roughly 40 percent of Bernie’s total campaign expenditures.
The ad agency, established in 2014, has almost exclusively served the Sanders campaign, and the company keeps a low profile. It has no website and no listed phone number. A full list of principals isn’t publicly available.
The principals of Old Towne are two longtime colleagues of Jane O’Meara Sanders who have worked on some of Bernie’s past re-election bids. But it’s a big leap from staffing a slam-dunk campaign in little old Vermont, to playing a crucial role in a bid for the presidency
But hey, perhaps Bernie values loyalty over experience.
There may be a good explanation. The problem is, the Sanders camp has resolutely refused to offer any. Digger contacted numerous people around Sanders and tried repeatedly to reach Old Towne, and got stonewalled. The only actual interchange was a “tense” encounter with Bernie’s longtime chief Senate staffer Michael Briggs. who demanded to know why Digger was pursuing the story.
Well, Mike, because it’s a flippin’ story, that’s why.
Even more so when you get all huffy about it.
The question, in my mind, isn’t so much “Why Old Towne Media?” as “Why won’t Bernie answer a few simple questions?” If there are simple answers, why the runaround?
This, taken along with his Trumpian refusal to release tax returns (except for one year, far less than the accepted standard), leaves a seemingly unnecessary air of mystery around Sanders family and campaign finances.
That troubles me. It ought to trouble you.
Bernie posits himself as the one true political force, steadfast in principle. So what’s wrong with a little transparency, dude?
If, as O’Meara Sanders once said, their finances are “really pretty boring,” why not some simple disclosure? In the name of transparency and openness in politics, which are reputedly two of the core principles of politics Bernie style.
Sauce goose, sauce gander. Right?
Something smells horribly rancid here and me thinks it’s the gander’s secret sauce.
When you write “But hey, perhaps Bernie values loyalty over experience” that is laughable. Loyalty and Bernie don’t belong in the same sentence. Yes, he treated Chris Pearson nicely, throwing some money his way, but his past reluctance to endorse long-time supporters and campaigners and staffers of his (ie. Anthony Pollina in his bid for governor, Phil Fiermonte in his bid for – as I recall – city counsel, and Dave Zuckerman, now running for Lt Governor) show just how much he is first and foremost concerned about … Bernie.
Full disclosure: I ran his Colchester campaigns for 8 years before running for state rep as a Prog. Would he endorse me when I ran for an open seat? Nope — there was also a dem in the race (not that he even knew her).
I hear your irritation. And I don’t understand what that not-endorsing-supporters-and-colleagues business is all about, either. But I’m not in politics. Bernie’s not alone in that though. You’ve got Elizabeth Warren (who Senator Sanders brought to Montpelier on a speaking tour when she was a bright, progressive unknown and not a national name) failing to step up and back an obvious ally (I really don’t get what that was all about); Harry Reid (described as a very close friend and colleague with Bernie) making a political choice to back his opponent; Chris Christie (who apparently jailed a member of Trump’s extended family) endorsing Trump, and then numerous VT nominal liberals failing to back their colleague and fellow-Vermonter. The great Cornel West has said ‘I love my brother, Bernie’ but he cannot and will not vote for Hillary Clinton. And won’t. But I’ve also seen a photo of Leahy and Sanders sharing a chuckle and friendly moment recently. Je ne comprends pas.
Follow the Bread Crumbs !
Just the 10% commission on the media buys is eight million dollars, and I’ve got a twenty in my wallet that I’, willing to bet that Bernie and Jane are in for a big “kickback” (claw-back) on this chunk of change. Toy need only to look at the Burlington College deal to see how the Sanders treat their loyal friends – leaving them in the dust, cleaning up wreckage they leave behind !
You’re right, Sanders should release his tax returns and be done with it. And sure, secretive Old Towne Media is a “story”, mebbe. Like: “Why so secretive, Old Towne?” And “What’s the connection to Canal Media?” and “Does it matter?” And if we’re gonna be fair and balanced here, how ’bout a little attention to David Brock (see: https://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/04/07/19521/how-citizens-united-helping-hillary-clinton-win-white-house) and “Why do/did Vermont’s Democratic Political Big feet Not Care About Brock and his shenanigan’s on Clinton’s Behalf?” There’s A LOT of information there. No chasing chimeras needed. I’d like to know what someone as upright-looking (okay, tall) as Senator Leahy has to say about the information documented by The Center for Public Integrity. Or why Dean doesn’t give a damn. (Gotta admit that’s got a poetic ring) Perhaps Michael Briggs is just irritated with y’all. Could be.