Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont did not praise the Department of Justice’s recent decision to focus heavily on prosecuting white-collar criminals; rather, he pointed out the many big bank CEOs that were allowed to walk free following the financial crisis of 2008.
The DOJ, led by former Attorney General Eric Holder from 2009 to 2015, did not prosecute any of the CEOs whose decisions with their own banks greatly contributed to the economic collapse of 2008-2009. In a memo written by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, the DOJ has announced that it will hold corporations and individuals responsible for any wrongdoing moving forward.
In a statement written to the Huffington Post, Sanders criticized the Department’s years-long delay in prosecuting white-collar criminals.
“One of the biggest mistakes our government made after the financial crisis was not prosecuting the people responsible for the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior that crashed our economy and ruined the lives of millions of Americans,” Sanders' statement read. “It is not acceptable that many young people have criminal records for smoking marijuana, while the CEOs of banks whose illegal behavior helped destroy our economy do not.”
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The DOJ cannot prosecute most of the criminals involved in the 2008 crisis due to an expiration on the statute of limitations, the Huffington Post noted. Even though corporations have pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing, specific individuals have not; in other words, many financial businesspeople avoided jail time.
Sanders has used similar rhetoric in the past to drum up support from communities who wish to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Recently, he spoke at a rally in Nevada against the War on Drugs.
“We want to deal with minimum sentencing,” Sanders said. “Too many lives have been destroyed for non-violent issues. People that are sent to jail have police records. We have got to change that. Our job is to keep people out of jail, not in jail.”
At another campaign stop in San Francisco, Sanders spoke on everything from the media’s coverage of the 2016 elections to the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court Case, Citizens United vs. FEC.
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Speaking about Citizens United, which ruled that there should be no limits to the amount of funds donated to presidential Super PACs, Sanders remained critical of the Court’s decision.
“If we don’t overturn Citizens United, a handful of billionaires will own the United States," he said. " … We need a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.”
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