As #Bernie Sanders heads overseas to meet with the Pope, he has also opted to release his tax returns. The information unveiled was about as controversial as expected, with Sanders and his wife making an income of about $205,000 in 2014. To put that into perspective, #Hillary Clinton charges roughly $225,000 dollars per speaking engagement, while Donald Trump reportedly charges $1.5 million per engagement.
Before his run for the Presidency, Sanders generally only charged several hundred dollars for fees, likely in order to defray costs. The vast majority of Sanders' income is from his senate salary, a healthy $174,000 dollars, and social security income. Sanders decision to release his income is in direct response to Hillary Clinton, who has so far refused to release transcripts from her paid speeches to Wall Street mega-banks.
In 2013, Hillary Clinton received $675,000 from just Goldman Sachs for a mere three speaking engagements. Between Hillary and former President Bill Clinton, the couple have pulled in an astonishing $153 million in speaking fees, though much of the income was from Bill rather than Hillary since Bill left office.
While Mrs. Clinton has so far been tight-lipped in regards to her speech transcripts, she and her husband have released their tax records for the last 30 years.
Sanders 'poor' compared to peers
The average net worth of democrats in the U.S. Senate was a whopping $14 million dollars in 2011 (the most recent year I could find data from reliable sources). This number was heavily skewed by Mark Warner, with a net worth of $250 million, and Richard Blumenthal and Jay Rockefeller, both with net worths just north of $100 million.
The most recent estimates for Bernie Sanders put his networth at approximately $528,000. The Clintons are believed to be worth approximately $111 million. With so much of their income coming from wealthy individuals and organizations, many are questioning the ability of Hillary Clinton to govern while not being influenced by powerful special interests.
Campaign Donations an even bigger deal
Of course, when it comes to elections, the personal net worth of individuals running for office is only a small part of the equation. Usually, candidates aren't spending huge sums of their own money, but instead donations from their supporters. Bernie Sanders has managed to put together a surprisingly effective fundraising machine that relies on small donors, while Clinton has relied largely on mega-donors, bundlers, and contributions to her super-pacs.
Untangling donations to political campaigns can be a complex and time consuming process. Full pictures of the donations often only become clear after elections wrap up. Still, the Washington Post has found that Clinton had raked in at least $21.4 million in donations from financial firms as of February 2016, with much of the money going to super-pacs.
Sanders has refused to court big money donors and rely on super-pacs. Over 99.9% of the money gathered has been in the form of direct campaign contributions. Most of Sanders' donations have come in the form of small donations, though some companies, including Apple and Microsoft, have hefty donations in the tens of thousands of dollars. #Election 2016