Bernie Sanders finally admitted to a shameful secret on Tuesday: the crusty democratic socialist is a millionaire.
Sanders confessed to his agonizing shame while announcing that, after years of dodging the issue, he will release ten years of his tax returns before April 15.
The senator has long made weird excuses for not releasing his returns as he runs for the Democratic nomination for president. Those excuses included “a mechanical issue” and a claim that the only thing standing between his returns and daylight was his “dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.”
His refusal to release his returns in 2016 were a minor issue that faded when he lost the nomination to Hillary Clinton. But in the 2020 cycle, with Sanders leading in the polls, he could not avoid the disclosure. Though his continuing avoidance of it had drawn raised eyebrows and lots of speculation from political observers and risked becoming a distraction for him.
When The New York Times mentioned to Sanders that he is now a member of the millionaire class he has long derided, he declared, “I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”
In truth, that Sanders is a millionaire was already known. His Senate financial disclosure forms showed that he earned $1.06 million in 2017, and $885,000 came from book royalties. So he is just barely a millionaire, and that is only one year’s earnings.
Sanders did not give a reason for why it has taken him so long to release his returns. But it does take an issue off the table, and allows him to draw a contrast with Donald Trump, who is preparing to sue all the way to the Supreme Court to keep his own returns from being revealed.