Bernie Sanders’ Stubbornness Is Costing The American Taxpayer

Bernie Sanders' refusal to admit that his campaign is over is costing you up to $38,000 per day.


The primary races are over, the votes are counted, the delegates are allocated, and it is blindingly obvious that Bernie Sanders is not going to be the Democratic nominee for President. Despite all of that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is continuing to act as if he’s running for President, and it’s costing taxpayers up to $38,000 per day:

When Sen. Bernie Sanders, the now-vanquished Democratic presidential candidate, returns to Capitol Hill to vote Monday, he is expected to be accompanied by his constant traveling companions from the campaign trail: the U.S. Secret Service.

Although Hillary Clinton has clinched the party’s nomination, Sanders retains one of the trappings of a top-notch candidate. A team of agents still guards him at his home, where they’ve constructed a small watch station on the property. They travel with him on commercial and charter flights and use a motorcade to whisk him through cities he visits. And they recently marched alongside him during a gay-pride event here in his home town after the Orlando shootings.

Such round-the-clock protection can cost taxpayers more than $38,000 a day. And with the potential for the Secret Service to be watching over Sanders through the Democratic convention in Philadelphia five weeks from now, the taxpayers may get stuck with a big security bill long after his campaign receded from the daily cable-news cycle.

The continued security presence also reflects a larger reality of Sanders’s muddled standing in the Democratic race. He has virtually no chance of becoming the party’s nominee, and he is no longer pressing his case to Democratic leaders that he should. Yet Sanders remains an active candidate because he has not “suspended” his campaign or taken any other steps that would alter his official status.

“He’s in a kind of political purgatory right now,” said Mary Anne Marsh, a Democratic strategist who has worked for neither the Clinton nor Sanders campaign. “He has the perception of still running for president, but he’s not doing that in reality.”

Aides to Sanders say he is most focused now on trying to parlay his unexpectedly strong performance in the Democratic primaries into concrete changes to the party’s platform and upcoming legislative agenda. To advance those goals, Sanders met last week in Washington with Clinton. Staffers are continuing to talk about how she might adopt some of the ideas, such as tuition-free college, that he pressed during his campaign.

Depending on how that effort goes, it’s possible that Sanders could endorse Clinton before the July 25 start of the convention in Philadelphia, Sanders’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said.

Even if that happens, Sanders has no plans to suspend his campaign before the convention, when the party’s platform is finalized, Weaver said.

Asked to explain the distinction between endorsing another candidate and dropping out, Weaver shrugged his shoulders and demurred.

The senator from Vermont declined repeated requests over the past week for an interview about the status of his campaign.

Citing a policy not to talk about issues affecting his security, Sanders’s aides declined to publicly discuss the most visible sign of his ongoing candidacy: his Secret Service protection.

Sanders’s protective detail was on full display Tuesday in Washington — the day of the final Democratic primary, in the District — as his motorcade sped from Capitol Hill to the Capital Hilton, near the White House, for the much-anticipated meeting with Clinton, which started shortly after the polls closed.

Sirens from a D.C. police SUV blared as the cars sped to a stop in the driveway, and a half-dozen Secret Service agents in dark suits exited the vehicles. A handful of them glanced around, keeping a protective circle around the gold-colored SUV that Sanders sat in. Another whispered into a microphone on his sleeve. A moment later, the agent guardedly opened the door, and Sanders and his wife, Jane, emerged.

As Sanders and his entourage breezed through the lobby, they were greeted by a large crowd of onlookers who clapped and yelled, “Bernie!”

“There’s no denying that some of the accoutrements that come with campaigns can be intoxicating,” said Jim Manley, a longtime Democratic operative who is supporting Clinton.

But Manley said he thinks there’s a broader explanation for why Sanders remains a candidate at a time when, in his view, the party would be better served by Sanders rallying around Clinton.

“He is just so convinced of the righteousness of his cause that I think he is having trouble giving it all up,” Manley said.

I’m sure that it doesn’t hurt to advance the argument for “socialism” and “equality” while being whisked around in a motorcade that gets police and Secret Service protection, enjoying access to Broadway productions that ordinary people can’t get tickets to for at least a year, and generally being treated like a rock star. For a guy from Vermont, it must all be very intoxicating. At the same time, though, one has to wonder why it is continuing at this point or why it existed in the first place.

As the article linked above goes on to explain, Secret Service protection is generally not granted to Presidential candidates unless and until they become their party’s nominee, and it ends the moment the election is over. As the outcome of the 2012 election became apparent, for example, the Secret Service detail around Mitt Romney, which was ready to be supplemented with a larger force if he had won the election that night, immediately shut down operations. In the case of candidates like Sanders who are not a party nominee, the campaign can apply for protection if they deem it necessary and that application is reviewed by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and a group of Members of Congress. This year, candidates who received protection during the course of the primary race included Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Sanders, and, of course, Hillary Clinton, who already had a small detail due to the fact that she is the spouse of a former President. Presumably, there was good cause for granting protection to Sanders, Trump, and Carson to begin with, but it seems odd for it to continue now that it is apparent that Sanders is not going to be th nominee and he is not actively campaigning.

Trump’s protection has presumably been increased now that he is the presumptive nominee and will continue with him right up until Election Night in November at the very least. Clinton too has probably seen her detail increase back to the levels she was used to as First Lady. Ben Carson’s detail, of course, said goodbye after he dropped out of the race. Only Sanders’ protection remains, awaiting the acknowledgment of what everyone already knows, namely that his campaign is effectively over, and it’s costing the American taxpayer. There was apparently a need for protection for Sanders while he was a candidate, and I’m not going to second guess that decision. The same goes for Carson and and Trump, who apparently both received multiple credible threats during the course of the campaign. The only reason it’s continuing now, though, is because of Sanders’ stubborn refusal to admit to reality. Since he’s clearly no longer really running for office, Sanders ought to suspend his campaign so the Secret Service can go home.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James Pearce says:

    Does the Secret Service know they don’t need to protect Bernie? If not, someone should tell them.

  2. PJ says:

    So, 37 days. If Sanders quits today, then the saved money can be used to fund the DoD for…

    …1.5 minutes.

    Or funding the upkeep of the nuclear weapons arsenal for 38 minutes.

    …Nuclear winter averted…

  3. Sergio Ramos says:

    Pretty sure nation-wide Sanders supporters alone are paying more than enough in taxes to cover this expense. So I’d say we’re all totally fine with this, unless you’re trying to tell us were wrong for still believing Bernie is the better candidate and Hillary isn’t a treaturous tyrannous traitor to her people and country. Have a nice day!

  4. Rick says:

    The longer he waits the less he has to offer. He is almost out of the news. In 5 weeks his credibility will be shot because of his inability to make a decision.

  5. DM says:

    Hillary Clinton is under Criminal Investigation by the FBI. If she is forced to quit the race due to indictment, think of all the money SHE will have wasted the taxpayers, not only for her personal security, but all the FBI and Department of Justice employees that have been working full time to investigate her home brew Email server that was against regulations, and all the emails that she destroyed, and all the money that will have to be spent by the CIA to shore up all the national security problems caused because she left her server vulnerable to hackers. Not to mention all the potential problems related to foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation. Maybe its time for her to save the taxpayers some money and step down. The more the corporate media grasps at straws trying to make Bernie look bad, the less likely all but her most ardent followers will actually vote for her.

  6. Sergio Ramos says:

    @DM: What we need is, not as the 1% who own the media, to coerce the media into talking more about the criminal investigations. Problem is how the DNC has the media under control….

  7. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Sergio Ramos: The Inquisitor? The JV training site for the National Enquirer and the Weekly World News? Really? That’s it?

  8. JKB says:

    Oh, relax. Once the socialist methods of production raise the standards of living of the masses to that enjoyed by the distinguished holders of important offices then we’ll finally have, on Earth, a communist paradise. Socialism is just going to have these inequalities.

    Stalin reserves the term communism exclusively for what Marx called the “higher phase” of communism. Socialism, in the sense in which Stalin has lately used the term, is moving towards communism, but is in itself not yet communism. Socialism will turn into communism as soon as the increase in wealth to be expected from the operation of the socialist methods of production has raised the lower standard of living of the Russian masses to the higher standard which the distinguished holders of important offices enjoy in present-day Russia.

    von Mises, Ludwig (2010-12-16). Planned Chaos (LvMI).

  9. An Interested Party says:

    Awwwww, poor delusional fools who think Hillary should be indicted and if she isn’t it must be because of some kind of conspiracy…oh please…grow up…

  10. An Interested Party says:

    Once the socialist methods of production raise the standards of living of the masses to that enjoyed by the distinguished holders of important offices then we’ll finally have, on Earth, a communist paradise.

    Oh Christ, talk about growing up…who knew this thread was infested with loons…mental hospitals must have liberal internet privledges…

  11. Bob@Youngstown says:


    Hillary Clinton is under Criminal Investigation by the FBI.

    Perhaps I’ve missed it somewhere, but can anyone provide a authoritative source for this statement, preferrably by someone authorized to speak for the FBI.

    Specifically the “Criminal”

  12. Tony W says:

    $38K is nothing. It’s $1/day per person for the next five weeks from every inhabitant of a tiny midwestern town nobody has heard of.

    No laws are being broken. Let the man finish pushing his political agenda. He motivated and moved a lot of people, and did a lot of good by bringing up new topics into the national conversation that were not present before.

    Carry on Bernie, and then vote for Hillary Clinton in the fall.

  13. Andy says:

    Bernie needs the protection to keep from ending up like Vince Foster


  14. grumpy realist says:

    And then we have the even loopier Green Party over there on the left….

    (The comments are priceless. A whole bunch of SJWs who were too young to vote in 2000 and want to redo the whole “they’re all a bunch of crooks so we must vote for the pure and undefiled!” schtick that Nader pulled. I’d worry more about them except that I suspect the Green Party will pull about 0.4% of the vote.)

    I also love the blithe statements that 93% of the Bernie voters will of course follow the Green Party instead if Bernie endorses them. I can’t decide whether I want more to pat them on the head or give them a good slap.

  15. Lit3Bolt says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I don’t like your comment! I’m going to prove you wrong by making myself completely irrelevant and politically powerless! Maybe then you’ll see it my way!

    *Flounces off stage left to bedroom, slams door. Later, strains thumbs due to excessive angry Tweeting.*

  16. Mister Bluster says:

    “I think it’s an offense to the concept of feminism to say that Hillary Clinton—and her advocacy for war, for Wall Street and for the ‘Walmart Economy’—represents feminism.”
    Jill Stein

    So does this mean that women in the United States Armed Forces or women stock brokers on Wall street or women shoppers at Walmart by default are not feminists?
    If I were a woman who worked at Walmart and supported Hillary Clinton, I would be offended.

  17. Jenos Idanian says:

    Oh, please. If Bernie had the slightest sense of responsibility (fiscally or otherwise), or even reality, he wouldn’t be a Socialist.

    It’s part of the definition, for Christ’s sake.

  18. edmondo says:

    For a blog called “Outside the Beltway” you sure seem to regurgitate a hell of a lot of inside the Beltway memes.

    So while you post horror stories about a “wasted” $38,000 a day, where’s the outrage over this sinkhole:

    America’s longest war is about to include more cash for Afghanistan’s army and police force — without any new conditions to try to ensure it doesn’t get gobbled up before making it to the battlefield.

    At a NATO summit in Warsaw that begins July 8, the United States and its allies will try to raise $15 billion to fund Afghan security forces through 2020. About $10.5 billion of that is expected to come from the United States,

  19. Pch101 says:

    We could save a lot of money by doing away with elections entirely.

    I don’t begrudge Sanders or any other nominee who wishes to wait for the convention. There are a lot of valid criticisms of Sanders, but griping about the cost of preventing his assassination isn’t one of them. Perhaps we should be more unhappy about our unwillingness to fix a culture in which such excessive protection efforts are necessary.

  20. bill says:

    Such round-the-clock protection can cost taxpayers more than $38,000 a day.

    that tricky word, “can” – what it really costs should be well below that. i mean really, do the math.
    and it’s nothing compared to if he won and actually got to do some of the insane things he promised.

  21. Tony W says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Get back to me after you read about the F-35 program.

    Hint: Just because the money goes to Lockheed instead of ordinary citizens doesn’t mean it’s not ridiculous spending.

  22. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Tony W: Yeah, the F-35 looks like a YUUUGE boondoggle. But other than a hunch that Bernie voted against it (because it’s military and aggressive and other ucky stuff, not because it’s a bad design), what’s it got to do with Bernie’s delusions?

  23. jukeboxgrad says:

    The Inquisitor?

    I don’t trust that source any more than you do, but they actually raise an important question about the following words:

    Our goals in the coming months will be to frame the Republican field and the eventual nominee early and to provide a contrast between the GOP field and HRC

    If this document is genuine, and the words were written on 5/26/15 by a DNC official, then they are incongruent with the idea that the DNC has been neutral. Can you find anyone addressing this problem in a serious way? I can’t.

    I think it’s also remarkable that WP has not even mentioned this issue (as far as I can tell), but instead they posted what the top commenter correctly described as “an unbelievably petty article.”

  24. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian: From what I’ve read, the F-35 STILL has a habit of flipping and crashing.

    And no one wants to get rid of the project because of all that sweet, sweet cash getting farmed out around the US.

    I’ll believe in Republicans’ fits about Teh Deficit when they axe the F-35 project.

  25. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    At a NATO summit in Warsaw

    Now there’s a line I never thought I’d live to read.

  26. Tony W says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    what’s it got to do with Bernie’s delusions?

    You accused him of being a socialist, then equated that to fiscal irresponsibility. You were wrong on both accounts. As usual.