Did Bernie Sanders' Ex and Son Have to Live on Welfare?

I thought I knew all the horrible Bernie Sanders stories. But this one is new to me.

In 1971, Vermont was debating a tenant's rights bill. One of the testimonials to Vermont's State Senate Judiciary Committee came from one Susan Mott of Burlington, who said the legislation did not go far enough in prohibiting discrimination against single mothers and recipients of welfare benefits. Mott had one child and was on welfare.

That one child, introduced earlier in this essay, was Levi Sanders, Bernie Sanders' son.

Which begs the question, why did Bernie Sanders' (former?) girlfriend and his son have to be on welfare? Where was the University of Chicago graduate's considerable marketable skills? What was 5-year-old Levi's father doing that he couldn't afford to support his own child?

Prior to his election as mayor of Burlington, Sanders' income from a single film and writing was not enough to pay child support. In fact, the $33,800 (roughly $94,000 in today's dollars) salary as mayor was his first real full time employment. He doesn't even remember what type of regular work he did before.

And so, his own child ended up on welfare because his father could not - no, would not - support his child despite having a college degree, which, at that time, was fairly rare.

That makes Bernie Sanders a deadbeat dad. Bernie Sanders' infatuation with his own political ambition kept him from supporting his own child.

Is it true?

Bernie Sanders does seem to have a poor relationship with Levi. Sandernistas have used Bernie's refusal to support his son for public office as proof of his ethics and integrity. Nah. Bernie had no problem backing the various ambitions of his stepkids with whom he seems to have a much better relationship.

Mott's relationship with Bernie was quite the whirlwind romance.

 On March 17, 1969, according to records, Sanders bought another property, in out-of-the-way Stannard, with a population of fewer than 200 people, in the rural area of Vermont called the Northeast Kingdom. Four days later, Levi Noah Sanders was born, at Brightlook Hospital in St. Johnsbury, Vermont; according to his birth certificate, his mother was a woman named Susan Campbell Mott.

Sanders had met Mott in New York and lived with her there. He lived with her in Stannard, too, but not for long before moving to Burlington, Vermont’s biggest city...

He shared custody of his son in an informal arrangement with Mott, according to people who knew them. “She was around a lot,” Nancy Barnett, a friend who lived nearby, told me. Barnett called Mott “a pretty quiet, private person.” Sanders rented a small brick duplex at 295 1/2 Maple Street that was filled with not much furniture and not much food in the fridge but stacks of checked-out library books and scribbled-on legal pads. His son, who called his father “Bernard,” had an upstairs bedroom.

This whole mess only seems to get more twisted.

Messing said that version of the story is oft-repeated, and has perpetuated a major error: That she, Messing, is the mother of Levi Sanders. In fact, the mother of Sanders’ only biological son is Susan Glaeser. (She is listed on Levi’s birth certificate as both Susan Campbell Mott and Susan Sanders, which was also the name attributed to her in a local newspaper’s birth announcements.)...

After Sanders became mayor in 1981, she saw a news story that mistakenly pegged his first wife as Levi’s mother.

“I noticed that after the mayoral certification,” she said, when she saw a profile on him in the paper. “I wondered about it. It is just really weird,” she said. “And irrelevant. Then suddenly it’s important when you’re running for president.”

VTDigger asked Bernie Sanders’ campaign office for a comment about why Sanders didn’t correct the record at some point over the past 35 years. The campaign did not respond to the request before publication of this story.

There's been speculation that Bernie and his people wanted to bury the out-of-wedlock welfare mom and deadbeat dad angle. At the time that would have been more damaging than it is now.

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