PORTLAND –By publicly rejecting Wall Street cash, Bernie Sanders has built a fundraising juggernaut that is based on mostly small donations — sometimes from quirky sources.
Among them: The Stonedware Company in Portland, Oregon. Purveyors of “handcrafted porcelain smoking wares,” the store is now selling a popular pipe set emblazoned with the Sanders campaign logo and a stylized image of the senator’s head and hair.
The pipes, which come in long and short sizes, are $60 each. There’s also a smaller “chillum” on offer for $30. And just in case anyone gets the wrong idea, the site offers a disclaimer warning the products “are intended for tobacco use only.”
Initially seen advertised with the promise that 10% of the proceeds would go to the senator’s election bid, the store said in an email it had already hit the federal contribution limit.
“Because of the wonderful support of the Bernie community we have reached the maximum legal donation for any donor to the Sanders campaign,” Stonedware told CNN. “All donations past the legal limit will be focused toward charities that support girls and women in STEM and the Arts.”
The Sanders campaign would not comment on the specific items, but a spokesman said the “only place to find official Bernie 2016 merchandise” is on the candidate’s website.
Ariel Zimman, who is listed as a designer on the Stonedware Company site, is the ceramic artist behind the unofficial swag. In an interview with the Center for Public Integrity, the 29-year-old said she had already given $150 to the campaign and planned to donate another $200 in the coming month.
“It was really just a way to show my support for him as a candidate,” she told the nonprofit investigative outlet. “People love [the pipes], and once they hear they are contributing in some way to the campaign, they are all about that too.”