Ex-Hillary Clinton Staffer Blasts ‘His Royal Majesty King Bernie Sanders’ Over Private Jet Travel

Independent Vermont Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is taking heavy criticism over his use of private air travel while campaigning for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and since then.

According to a report from Politico, Sanders “repeatedly requested and received the use of a carbon-spewing private jet for himself and his traveling staff when he served as a surrogate campaigner for Hillary Clinton.”

The paper notes that since the campaign, Sanders has continued to rack up private air miles, to the tune of $342,000.00. Although much of the reporting was based on unnamed former Clinton campaign sources, at least one was willing to go on the record:

“I’m not shocked that while thousands of volunteers braved the heat and cold to knock on doors until their fingers bled in a desperate effort to stop Donald Trump, his Royal Majesty King Bernie Sanders would only deign to leave his plush D.C. office or his brand new second home on the lake if he was flown around on a cushy private jet like a billionaire master of the universe,” said Zac Petkanas, who was the director of rapid response for the Clinton campaign.

Sanders staffers and spokespeople told Politico that the private flights were necessary in order for Sanders to accommodate the Clinton campaign’s scheduling requests. Sanders 2016 spokesman Michael Briggs called Clinton and her campaign “total ingrates,” and “some of the biggest assholes in American politics.”

But Sanders’ love affair with private air travel did not begin with his surrogacy for Hillary Clinton. Early in his 2016 campaign, flying commercial was a theme among Sanders’ supporters, but late in 2015, news outlets began to notice his increasing use of private flights.

When ABC News called him on it, Sanders delivered a characteristically blunt response:

ABC News asked Sanders about whether the extremely high per-person carbon footprint of private planes was consistent with his staunch environmental policies. Sanders often talks about the need for “bold” action on climate change and even criticized the recent international Paris Accord for not going far enough to curb carbon emissions.

“The carbon footprint? As opposed to what?” the 74-year-old Senator said recently. “We are trying to get around Iowa and get around the country as best we can. So we have a lot of people to see and that is the best way [sic] can do it.”

Sanders continued to use private flights during the primaries, most famously for a visit to the Vatican in April of 2016, where he briefly met the Pope. The trip drew intense scrutiny on social media when then- New York Times reporter Yamiche Alcindor posted a photo of the charter flight’s menu, which included lobster sliders:

Prior to the 2016 Democratic convention, his campaign also planned to demand a private campaign plane and staff, to be paid for by the Democratic National Committee, according to a leaked memo:

Some recommendations for the fall:
• Request a plane and staff for a series of fall rallies in battleground states. This plane would be paid for by the DNC. The more Sen. Sanders campaigns the more credit he can take for a Democratic victory and continue to keep his movement energized and in place. It would also make great sense to focus on younger voters.

As Politico notes, the controversy over air travel is evidence of the lingering hard feelings left over from the 2016 presidential campaign, in which Sanders was slow to concede, and in many peoples’ view, did not do enough to get his supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton.

[featured photo via Getty Images]

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