How Not to Resign from Our Revolution


Thanks to a report by NBC News, we can now reconstruct the sequence of events that led to the resignation of 8 out of 13 staffers from Our Revolution:

  1. Bernie Sanders personally promised them presidential campaign manager Jeff Weaver would not be running Our Revolution.
  2. Legal and ethical concerns arose about Bernie’s wife Jane Sanders serving as president of Our Revolution and so she stepped down. Jeff Weaver was brought in to replace her on August 15.
  3. Many staffers objected to Weaver’s appointment and Bernie tried to convince them to stay on.
  4. Staffers resigned on August 20 and 21.
  5. The first news stories about the turmoil behind the scenes at Our Revolution were published by Buzzfeed and Politico on August 23, 24 hours before the livestreamed launch event.

What made the stories about these staff resignations so explosive was the allegation made by the former organizing director of Sanders’ presidential campaign, Claire Sandberg, that Jeff Weaver was going to betray Our Revolution’s core mission by soliciting donations from the billionaire class to pay for television ads. Thanks to Jane Sanders’ clarification below (and boardmember Larry Cohen’s denial), we can now conclude that Sandberg’s claim was a slander aimed at smearing Weaver and damaging Our Revolution’s launch.


Having set the record straight, a few things need to be said about the way this whole incident was mishandled by both sides:

  • It was clearly a mistake for Bernie Sanders to make a personal promise to staffers about personnel decisions. The political revolution is not about one person – not Bernie Sanders, not Jane Sanders, and certainly not Jeff Weaver (sorry Jeff). Making this promise arguably planted the seeds for trouble later on once unforeseen circumstances compelled Sanders to backtrack on his promise and bring Weaver in.
  • Weaver was brought in only as a last resort and only because Jane Sanders had to step down as president. Why did she step down? Because no one wants Our Revolution to look like the Clinton Foundation where one spouse exploits the political office they hold to generate millions of dollars in donations that the other spouse, in turn, financially benefits from.
  • Even if every claim made by the aggrieved staffers about Jeff Weaver’s personal failings is 100% true, that still would not excuse their conduct. Resigning just days before Our Revolution’s launch, blabbing to the corporate media, and deliberately misrepresenting Weaver (and by extension, Jane and Bernie) as shills for the billionaire class was inexcusably selfish and scab-like behavior. These staffers should have had the decency and common sense to give Our Revolution two weeks of lead time before their resignations would go into effect and should not have gossiped with Beltway journalists upon exiting. They took the low road while Jane, Bernie, and Weaver dealt with this storm in a teacup in a disciplined, professional, no-drama manner.

Bogus criticisms of Our Revolution are a ‘yooj’ distraction from the real and serious issues facing working people in this country. Our Revolution’s launch was smooth, successful, and the group has a promising future. The website already has a guide listing which way to vote statewide ballot initiatives, a list of endorsed progressive candidates, and way for people to get plugged in to local organizing, canvassing, and phonebanking. Get involved in a political revolution near you!


22 responses to “How Not to Resign from Our Revolution

  1. Thanks for the clarification, Pplswar. I didn’t think for a second that Bernie had gone to the dark side, or suddenly become inept. I don’t think the full story is revealed on why the staffers left — but I imagine, in part, they did not have the same thick political skin that Bernie exhibits.

    Have you investigated the claims that Bernie is not doing enough for Tim Canova? I heard Canova say he had hoped, and tried to contact Sanders’ people, to have Bernie campaign for him in Florida.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I didn’t buy it either but it’s nice to have public statements by Jane Sanders and Larry Cohen that Sandberg’s allegations were not based in fact. Having watched Sandberg debate Cohen on Democracy Now (below), it looks to me like the staffers’ major disagreement is actually about forming a 501(c)(4)

      I’m not an expert, but I don’t know of viable alternatives to 501(c)(4)s that could take money in between elections and spend it on non-election stuff. I think the only other possibility would’ve been a Super PAC.

      Yes, I’ve heard the hue and cry about Bernie Sanders ‘abandoning’ Tim Canova even though his email(s) raised millions of dollars for the guy. Here’s the thing: it’s not Bernie Sanders’ job to get Canova elected, it’s Tim Canova’s job. People are upset because crooked DWS has a double-digit lead in the polls down there even though he beat her in fund-raising and you can’t lay that at Bernie Sanders’ feet. I think people are looking for a scapegoat for Canova’s impending failure, frankly. Sending Bernie Sanders down there to stump for Canova isn’t going to reverse the poll numbers. People need to stop acting like Bernie Sanders is a magical unicorn that could get Jill Stein elected president or propel Canova to victory over DWS. If only political revolution were so easy, with few/hardly any defeats or setbacks!

      If Sanders went down to campaign for Canova, that would open up a whole can of worms with all the other Our Revolution endorsees, all of whom could reasonably ask, “how come Bernie stumped for Canova and not me?” They’re going to eventually fill that list out with 100 candidates and I can’t imagine Bernie doing 100 campaign stops all over the country between now and election day. Not ‘yoomanly’ possible even for a machine like Bernie.

      I think what we need to look more closely at is why didn’t Canova do better in the polls despite a fund-raising advantage and celeb-ish media coverage? What’s his ground game like? The fact that he’s on Twitter begging Bernie to come save him tells me he done goofed somewhere, somehow.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It took a lifetime of battlegrounds and unnoticed defeats for Bernie Sanders to keep his head in the game of social change. I do not think there is any way to avoid the fate of the Clinton Foundation, since oncee you create a perpetual corporate structure and staff it with ambitious human beings, there will be “corruption,” which may only be success through the perception of the underdog.


      • I don’t agree. Sanders set up a political action committee Friends of Bernie years ago for his Senate and congressional campaigns and it hasn’t turned into the Clinton Foundation. Also, I don’t think Jeff Weaver and Larry Cohen have any other ambitions except to make Our Revolution a success. They are too old to get into ladder-climbing electoral politics or corporate-type career advancement.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Looking more deeply at Canova’s race after your comment… He was just on CNN a few minutes ago pointing out that he has 4 field offices in the district while the Sanders campaign had zero; they are knocking on 10,000 doors a week(!), have hundreds of volunteers, and the largest field operation of any Congressional primary. Sanders lost that district to Clinton by almost 40 points while Canova is within striking distance of DWS, i.e. he is only behind her in polls by 5-10 points, so if Sanders campaigned for Canova he might actually drag him down, not help him. The people peddling this notion that Sanders isn’t doing enough to help Canova tend to be the same people peddling the notion that Sanders is a sellout, crooked, etc. and haven’t really investigated the ins and outs of this race. DWS has deep roots in this district having been an elected official from there since 1994 — i.e. for 20 years. It’s a Jewish majority district and she is the first Jewish woman from Florida elected to Congress.


  2. Thanks for the insightful reply! The video explains a lot. All good people, but with different ideas how to achieve a goal.

    In my experience, higher-level staff often minimizes the contributions of lower-level staff members. The uppers, are so busy, so pressured (working on many other unrelated projects), that they don’t bother to keep lowers in the loop. Meanwhile, the lowers are solely dedicated to the task at hand, working hard, only to have 80% of what they’ve done wiped out due to a sudden change of plans. People do not like having their time wasted.


  3. “Because no one wants Our Revolution to look like the Clinton Foundation where one spouse exploits the political office they hold to generate millions of dollars in donations that the other spouse, in turn, financially benefits from.”

    Isn’t the millions that Jane laundered through the Sanders campaign by being one of the media consultants who got a cut of the advertising spending enough? It’s already been proved that her share of the family home that was sold was not enough to cover paying $600K CASH for their 3rd house. Maybe she crashed and burned another college for a new golden parachute while we all weren’t looking?


  4. The logic here is absurd. Bernie have his personal promise and then broke it. If that was the terms of employment. They were given ample reason to leave Our Revolution. Are these indentured servers to serve obediently under Jeff Weaver? Jeff who is known through painstaking experience of many to bulldoze over grassroots organizers regularly. Congrats you have captured the logic of submission perfectly.


  5. I am hopeful that Claire and the that resigned will reconsider that decision and that Jeff will consider some changes and attempt to bring them all back together. This Movement is not about Bernie but about America. The SPARK that ignited this MOVEMENT was Bernie’s initiative , perspective, integrity, authenticity and perspective. This MOVEMENT is his vision — please don’t let that dissipate.


  6. ‘Slander’, a term which you’ve used multiple times here, has a clear legal definition: it requires statements about someone which are untrue. Your defense of the term seems to be that both Jane Sanders and Larry Cohen stated WELL AFTER THE FACT that OR would not be accepting the kind of ‘big money’ contributions that the staffers were so concerned about (i.e., something which on its face might suggest that the controversy itself made them firm up decisions in that area), whereas the staff’s statements about Weaver related to his own earlier alleged statements about having established OR as a 501c4 organization at least in part to allow such contributions (allegations which have in no way been refuted).

    You even appeared to allow for the possibility that those allegations were accurate when you stated “Even if every claim made by the aggrieved staffers about Jeff Weaver’s personal failings is 100% true…” but later returned to the accusations of slander. In both this and your previous blog entry on this subject you seem to have adopted a “Ready! Fire! Aim!” approach and then doubled down on it rather than been open to considering entirely appropriate push-back.


    • I’m not a lawyer nor an officer of the court so I’m not using the legal definition of the word. Duh!

      But since you think you’re some kind of legal expert (lol), Sandberg never used the term “big money” — you did.

      The fact of the matter is the Sanders campaign accepted money from millionaires and billionaires and spent some of that money running T.V. ads which is what Sandberg claimed she had a problem with re: Our Revolution. If that was what she objected to, she should’ve resigned from the campaign. That at least would’ve been principled behavior unlike what she actually did.


      • Then by all means find a regular (not legal) dictionary that doesn’t state that slander means making a false statement: I couldn’t with a quick on-line search but if you’re a competent researcher perhaps you’ll be able to do better.

        Speaking of competent research, of course Sandberg used the term ‘big money’: you just didn’t happen to stumble upon it this time. In fact, she used it in which happens to be the very first link in your very first citation in this blog post, but perhaps your preferred ‘research’ style is of the shallow variety. For that matter you linked to that politico article directly in your previous blog post on this subject and even quoted the ‘big money’ assertion yourself: ‘Duh!’ indeed.

        My response to that previous post more than adequately debunked your concluding paragraph just above, so I’ll simply repeat the relevant portion here:

        5. Your attempt to deflect the accusation about taking “big money from rich people including billionaires” was especially ludicrous. Of course Bernie’s campaign took money from a modest number of rich people – up to the same $2700 dollar limit that everyone had to remain within. The issue here was taking BIG money, as a 501(c)(4) organization is allowed to do without even making the contributions public, rather than funding it the way the campaign was funded and which the staffers felt was critical to the revolution’s credibility.

        Are you by any chance familiar with the aphorism, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging”?


    • I don’t think such bylaws exist, unfortunately. It’s not a membership-controlled organization, it’s top-down like the Sanders campaign it is supposed to be the continuation of.

      This in my opinion is one of Our Revolution’s major failings thus far.

      It’s not even clear from the website how progressives can submit candidates to Our Revolution for consideration. I’ve submitted long-time tenant organizer and democratic socialist Debbie Medina who is running in the Democratic primary in NY state senate’s 18th District for consideration by emailing about her and I encourage everyone to do the same.


  7. Pingback: All of Our Revolution’s Down-Ballot 2016 Victories | People's War

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