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February 03, 2014

Amidst Talk of Presidential Run, Sanders Ramped up Political Fundraising in 2013

BernieSen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) ramped up his political fundraising last year as he hinted at a possible 2016 run for president, according to new documents filed late last week.

In the second half of 2013, Sanders raised nearly $327,000 for Progressive Voters of America, a "leadership political action committee" he recently revived. The second-term senator, who does not face reelection until 2018, raised an additional $15,000 for his traditional campaign account in the final three months of the year.

Year-end fundraising and spending reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Committee show that all three members of Vermont's congressional delegation — Sanders, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) — have come to rely upon so-called leadership PACs to conduct political business. In addition to their traditional campaign accounts, members of Congress can establish such entities to raise money and spend it for political purposes, though not explicitly on their own reelection campaigns.

Before last year, Leahy led the way in steering support to a leadership PAC; his is called Green Mountain PAC. But in March, Welch filed paperwork to establish his own, called Maple PAC. And in July, Sanders announced to his email list that he would focus on building up Progressive Voters of America, a leadership PAC he founded in 2004, but which never previously raised more than $51,000 per quarter. Sanders said at the time he hoped to use the group to "create a strong grass-roots movement in all 50 states, and work hard to elect progressive candidates at the local, state and national level."

Continue reading "Amidst Talk of Presidential Run, Sanders Ramped up Political Fundraising in 2013" »

January 28, 2014

Video: Sanders Gets All Up in Bachmann's Grill

State of the union? Booooooring. 

If you're lookin' for a good (political) time tonight, we recommend you skip that snooze-fest of a speech and watch this clip of our own Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) appearing alongside — gasp! — Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) Monday night on CNN's  "Situation Room."

Here it is (with apologies for being slow on the uptake):

  

After you're done watching, repeat after me: "DO YOU SUPPORT A CHAINED CPI?"

Calm down.

DO YOU SUPPORT A CHAINED CPI?!"

Calm down.

December 11, 2013

This Week's Issue: F-35 Aftermath, Myers-Briggs for Farmers and Marijuana Testing

Cover121113

We're in the home stretch of 2013, people. As we at Seven Days plot our year-end coverage, enjoy this week's news and politics stories:

Pick this week's Seven Days up in print, online or on the iOS app.

Cover photo by Sarah Priestap

November 21, 2013

With Leahy Presiding, Senate Goes Nuclear

Leahy.FilibusterDuring his 38 years in the U.S. Senate, Patrick Leahy has spent plenty of time in the minority. So it's no surprise that, like many senior Democrats, he's looked warily over the years at proposals to empower the majority at the expense of the minority.

On Thursday, that changed.

Along with 51 other Democrats and independents — including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — Leahy voted to curtail the use of the filibuster by a minority faction to block most presidential appointments. The historic rules change means that a simple majority will suffice to confirm nominees to federal district and circuit courts and to the president's cabinet. 

"I believe in using the rules. I don't believe in abusing them," Leahy told Seven Days Thursday afternoon. "I have enough experience under both Democratic and Republican leadership to know that you have the rules, but you don't abuse them."

Continue reading "With Leahy Presiding, Senate Goes Nuclear" »

November 14, 2013

On Trip to North Africa, Welch Monitors Diplomatic Security in Libya, Peace-Keeping in Egypt

Welch.SinaiIn the fourteen months since Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has become an epicenter of outrage over the incident.

Its Republican members have criticized the Obama administration for failing to keep U.S. diplomatic personnel safe and, they allege, for covering up details of the attack.

Last weekend, four committee members — including Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) — traveled to Libya to review the State Department's progress in implementing security improvements to American embassies. It was a rare chance, Welch says, to put aside the partisan rancor and focus on substantive changes.

"The Oversight Committee, I think, unfortunately politicized what happened in Benghazi," he says. "But this trip, I thought, was an opportunity for two Republicans, two Democrats to start looking at this in a broader perspective and hopefully bring that back to the committee."

Joining Welch on the four-day trip to Libya, Egypt and Malta were U.S. Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.). Chaffetz, a conservative Republican who chairs an oversight subcommittee focusing on national security and foreign operations, has been particularly critical of the administration's handling of the embassy attack.

Continue reading "On Trip to North Africa, Welch Monitors Diplomatic Security in Libya, Peace-Keeping in Egypt" »

October 30, 2013

This Week's Issue: Hunting Trouble, Prison Sex and an M.I.A. Delegation

Cover103013While you're putting together your Halloween getup tonight — bonus candy for anyone in a homemade F-35 costume — give this week's news and politics stories in Seven Days a read. Here's what you'll find.

Pick up this week's issue in print, online or on the app. Finally, go Sox.

October 18, 2013

Morning Read: Playboy Interviews Bernie Sanders

MorningreadWe apologize in advance for using the words "Bernie Sanders" and "Playboy" in the same sentence, but here goes:

Sanders, Vermont's independent U.S. senator, is the subject of the storied Playboy interview in this month's issue. Not that we subscribe or anything. We just heard about it from a friend.

Interviewing Sanders for the men's mag was writer and activist Jonathan Tasini, who previously interviewed Paul Krugman for Playboy. His history as a gadfly political candidate in New York is reminiscent of Sanders' own early electoral outings. Tasini challenged and lost to then-senator Hillary Clinton in 2006 and scandal-plagued Congressman Charles Rangel in 2010.

Playboy.bunnyWhile Tasini doesn't break a lot of new ground in the interview, he does elicit an interesting response when he asks Sanders about a potential 2016 presidential candidacy. Sanders demurs at first, saying that "to run a serious campaign, you need to raise hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars."

Nevertheless, the Vermonter says, Americans "are hungering for a voice out there," and "it would be tempting to try to raise issues and demand discussion on issues that are not being talked about..."

Continue reading "Morning Read: Playboy Interviews Bernie Sanders" »

October 17, 2013

Welch Raises $213K in Campaign Cash; Leahy, Sanders Raise $30K

The Federal Election Commission was closed early this week when quarterly fundraising reports came due, but that didn't keep members of Vermont's congressional delegation from reporting how much money they'd raised.

Of the trio, Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) collected by far the most for his campaign coffers in the three months ending September 30. The four-term House member took in more than $213,000 and spent nearly $64,000, leaving him with $1.3 million in the bank. 

Welch's two-year term expires in November 2014, while Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-Vt.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) six-year terms end in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

Both senators raised roughly the same amount last quarter. Leahy took in $31,000 and spent $68,000, leaving him with $1.6 million cash on hand. Sanders, meanwhile, raised $33,000 and spent $35,000. His $4 million war chest remains by far the largest.

Continue reading "Welch Raises $213K in Campaign Cash; Leahy, Sanders Raise $30K " »

Vermont Delegation Votes to Avert Default, Reopen the Federal Government

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) voted for a last-minute deal Wednesday night to avert a national default and reopen the federal government.

Though the deal was seen as a victory for President Obama and congressional Democrats — and a stinging rebuke to conservative Republicans — Vermont's congressional delegates expressed little joy over the resolution to the 16-day standoff.

"It's a bad deal — only in the sense that we never should've gotten here," Leahy said Wednesday evening. "The grownups should've stopped this from happening a long time ago ... It never should've come to this."

The bill, which passed the Senate by an 81-18 vote and the House by a 285-144 vote, funds the federal government through January 15 and raises the debt limit through February 7. It also sets in motion bicameral negotiations to resolve Congress' longstanding budget disagreements.

Welch, who had rallied support for a no-strings-attached bill to raise the nation's debt ceiling, shared Leahy's frustration with the two-week ordeal

"This is a spectacle that was inflicted on the American people and was completely unnecessary," he said Wednesday afternoon. "We didn't pick this fight, but we had to wade through it."

Continue reading "Vermont Delegation Votes to Avert Default, Reopen the Federal Government" »

October 11, 2013

Sanders to Travel South With Democratic Super PAC

DSC05683After sitting in on the U.S. Supreme Court's oral arguments for a major campaign finance case Tuesday morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stood outside the court and railed against the influence of super PACs in American politics.

Next week, however, Sanders plans to join forces with a Democratic super PAC for a three-day, four-state tour of the southern United States. Organized by South Forward, Sanders' "Fight for Economic Justice Town Hall Meetings," will take him to Jackson, Miss., Birmingham, Ala., Atlanta, Ga., and Columbia, S.C.

"It's just a great opportunity and the response has been overwhelming," says South Forward executive director Jay Parmley, who says he expects between 150 and 200 people to attend each of Sanders' town hall meetings. "I think he'll be able to provide a shot in the arm for progressives and a shot in the arm for Democrats."

Continue reading "Sanders to Travel South With Democratic Super PAC" »

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