Sen. Bernie Sanders may pose as the anti-corruption candidate, but in 1983, when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he created a salaried position for this then-girlfriend Jane Driscoll (who is now his wife) and reportedly never advertised the job to the public.
The Daily Caller reports that criticism at the time abounded regarding Sanders high-handed actions; on July 7, 1985, Vermonter Magazine ran a piece titled, “The Friend Behind The Mayor.” In that article, the magazine wrote, “Sanders came into office saying he would eliminate the cronyism he felt typified his mayoral predecessor. Yet he doesn’t see creating a special post for Driscoll in City Hall, without considering others for the position, as cronyism because he believes Driscoll has proven her qualifications for the job.”
Then-Democratic Alderman Paul Lafayette asked, “If I was to appoint my wife to a paying job, would that be inappropriate? Now she is a girlfriend. But how much closer can you get? I’m not saying she’s not qualified. But the mayor’s no different than any other guy. He’s putting people around him that he’s comfortable with. If that’s not cronyism, what is?” he said.
Peter Schweizer wrote for Fox News:
When Bernie was first elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he appointed his then-girlfriend, Jane Driscoll, to head his administration’s Youth Office. Though the position was originally unpaid, Bernie eventually put Jane on the payroll over objections of the city council. The job was never advertised so that others could apply … After Bernie and Jane got married in 1988, his new wife received a big pay increase. As one local newspaper reported, “Political sparks flew at Burlington’s annual city meeting Monday night as Democratic aldermen raised a series of questions concerning a hefty pay raise for Mayor Bernie Sanders’ new wife and whether she should continue to hold her job as director of the Mayor’s Youth Office.”
The Daily Caller also quoted a November 1984 editorial from the Burlington Free Press that asserted Driscoll was “put on the city payroll in a job that was never advertised and was created for her. Sanders would deny the cronyism charge but what would he have called it if any former mayor had put a close friend on the city payroll? … For a mayor who lashed out his predecessor for his use of political patronage, Sanders has done a remarkable job in taking care of his friends … What many residents fail to understand is that Sanders has managed to erode the city’s commission form of government … Never, of course, did he seek voter approval, for he learned early on that taking proposals to the voters was a mistake. Twice, he took initiatives to the voters, and twice they said no. After that, he used double talk and intimidation to silence critics.”
The Washington Free Beacon reported in January 2016 that there were other ethically questionable actions sanders had undertaken in the past: “According to Jane O’Meara Sanders, the senator’s wife, Sanders’ House campaigns paid her more than $90,000 for consulting and ad placement services from 2002 to 2004. She pocketed about $30,000 of thatmoney. Her daughter Carina Driscoll, Sanders’ stepdaughter, also drew a salary from the campaign. She was paid more than $65,000 between 2000 and 2004, according to her mother.”