Bernie Sanders hits Chicago for fundraiser on Monday

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WASHINGTON — White House hopeful Bernie Sanders makes his first presidential fundraising stop in Chicago on Monday. Remarkably, it is only his fifth fundraiser anywhere in the country since launching his populist campaign in April.

Sanders will appear at a 5 p.m. “Chicago Meet and Greet Fundraising Reception” at Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., in Lincoln Park.

The price tag for Sanders’ Monday event ranges from $50 to $1,000.

Sanders was in Chicago in March to campaign for what turned out to be the failed mayoral bid of Cook County Board member Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and the successful 10th Ward aldermanic campaign of Susan Sadlowski Garza.

Both Garcia and Garza will speak at Sander’s Park West event, Sanders’ spokesman Michael Briggs said.

An extraordinary aspect of Sanders’ surging campaign is his ability to fuel it without a cadre of mega donors to his “Bernie 2016” presidential campaign committee.

Sanders has raised $15.2 million for his “Bernie 2016” fund, with about $10 million of that coming from small donations, according to Federal Election Commission records covering the period between April 1 and June 30.


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The Vermont senator — an independent, self-proclaimed socialist running in the Democratic primary — is not propped up by any super PAC.

Unlike presidential committees, super PACs can take unlimited donations from anyone — and that anyone is often a billionaire. Super PACS are playing a big role in the 2016 cycle, especially on the Republican side.

Only one other 2016 contender is not reliant on major donors: Republican Donald Trump, who is self-financing his campaign and not doing any significant fundraising.

The billionaire businessman and reality show star told reporters he is willing to put $1 billion of his own bucks into his bid.

When it comes to campaign finance stories to watch as the 2016 primaries unfold, the bookend to Sanders is Trump. Both men in their own way are throwing a spotlight on the corrupting influence of political fundraising.

Trump doesn’t have to woo a billionaire to create a super PAC to help him. If you’ve listened to him lately, you would have heard him brag that he’s worth $10 billion.

One of Sanders’ slogans on his website is “not a billionaire,” and one of his major issues is throwing a spotlight on “the massive and grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in this country,” as he said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

On the show, Sanders highlighted that he has collected donations from 350,000 people giving “on average, $31.20 apiece. That’s our response. To go out to working-class people, to go out to middle-class people, and getting support. I think that’s a little bit different approach than Donald Trump’s.”

Actually, Sanders and Trump are not that far apart when it comes to campaign money. For now, they are both liberated from having to constantly woo big donors and fundraisers — with obvious differences.

Trump, for all his boastfulness, is blunt in talking about what he expected when he donated money to political figures.

Until recently, he was the favor-seeking donor that he is now running against.

At the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Trump said he got a return on his investment when it came to his donations to Clinton and the family Clinton Foundation. “With Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding and she came to my wedding. You know why? She didn’t have a choice because I gave. I gave to a foundation.”

On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Trump took off after rival Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, and his fundraising machine:

“I know those people that gave him the money. I used to be one of them. I mean I gave to everybody, OK? I know those people. He’s like a puppet for those people. He’s a puppet. Those people, they will take negative ads on me and on other people. Because they want him in there because they’re going to control Jeb Bush. And not only Jeb, they’re going to control Hillary.”

Trump said of donors: “They’re going to control whoever is in.”

FOOTNOTE: Sanders is no stranger to Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree in 1964 from the University of Chicago, transferring to the Hyde Park school in 1962 from Brooklyn College.

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