Bernie Sanders slams Joe Biden campaign for accepting super PAC donations in effort to 'buy the election'

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign on Thursday accused Joe Biden of selling out to big donors in an effort to “buy the election” following reports that the former vice president and frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination would form a super PAC to accept unlimited donations from billionaires and corporate elites to cure his current fundraising woes.

A spokesperson for Biden’s campaign responded Thursday evening, telling Fox News in a statement that, in the eyes of President Trump, “the general election has already begun,” and Democrats must use any means possible within the parameters of current federal elections laws to win back the presidency — even if that includes taking money from corporations and billionaires alike.

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"Joe Biden has spent his campaign promising elite donors that nothing will fundamentally change for them, and he has made clear to fossil fuel and pharmaceutical donors that he will be their ally,” Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, said in a statement. “As a result, he has had trouble generating significant grassroots support from Americans who are getting crushed by those same big donors — and so his supporters are suddenly begging for help from super PACs, even though they are vehicles for the kind of corporate corruption that Democrats should be fighting to stop.”

"Let’s be clear: super PACs exist for one reason and one reason only: to help billionaires and corporations bankroll a presidential campaign with unlimited amounts of money, in exchange for favors,” he continued. “Every Democratic candidate should forcefully reject any help from super PACs -- and they should tell their supporters and surrogates to stop engaging with super PACs that aim to buy elections and undermine our democracy.”

Biden, who’s trailing his Democratic rivals in fundraising, said when he first announced his candidacy in April that he would not accept money from super PACs. The former U.S. senator from Delaware declared he was committed to driving perceived "dark money" from politics.

Before entering the 2020 race, Biden told PBS NewsHour in January 2018 that he was the one who told Sanders not to accept super PAC money, arguing he would lose the trust of the middle class.

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“My positions are a hell of a lot closer to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders on some of the economic positions,” Biden told PBS’s Judy Woodruff last year. “I mean, I sat with Bernie. I'm the guy that told him you shouldn't accept any money from a super PAC because people can't possibly trust you.”

Within the third quarter, Biden’s campaign raised $15.2 million but was left with just $9 million after expenditures, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, the Trump campaign, which welcomes super PAC contributions, and the Republican Party together raised $125 million in that same time period for the president’s re-election, according to the Republican National Committee. Using these funds, Trump's campaign paid for attack ads targeting Biden amid an ongoing Democratic-led House impeachment inquiry against the president.

While Biden’s campaign this week softened its stance on accepting super PAC donations, Sanders boasted his bid for the presidency is 100 percent grassroots funded. Biden’s campaign told Fox News on Thursday that he is still committed to eradicating private donations from federal elections — but until he becomes president, is open to big-donor contributions to defeat Trump.

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“As president, Joe Biden will push to remove private money from our federal elections. He will advocate for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United [a 2010 Supreme Cout decision on campaign financing] and end the era of unbridled spending by Super PACs,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, told Fox News.

“Until we have these badly needed reforms, we will see more than a billion dollars in spending by Trump and his allies to re-elect this corrupt president,” she continued. “And let’s be clear: Donald Trump has decided the general election has already begun. In this time of crisis in our politics, it is not surprising that those who are dedicated to defeating Donald Trump are organizing in every way permitted by current law to bring an end to his disastrous presidency. Nothing changes until we defeat Donald Trump.”