Deborah Sagner Buurma

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Deborah Sagner Buurma is the president of the left-of-center Sagner Family Foundation. The Sagner Foundation provides monetary support to left-of-center organizations that are politically active in social, economic, and racial policy. She is also the vice president of the Sagner Companies, a residential and commercial real estate development company.

Sagner Family

Deborah Sagner was born in 1950. 1 She received a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University, a master’s degree from Tufts University, and a master’s in social work from Fordham University. 2

Deborah Sagner’s father, Alan Sagner, married Ruth Levin, the daughter of New Jersey real estate developer Maurice Levi, in 1945.. Alan Sagner worked as finance chairman for Democratic Party official Brendan Byrne’s successful 1973 campaign for governor of New Jersey. He then served as Commissioner of Transportation in Byrne’s New Jersey government and was later appointed Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. 3

In 1994, the Clinton administration nominated Alan Sagner to serve on the board of directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). 4 Sagner’s nomination was heavily contested given his ownership of The Nation, a left-of-center magazine that generated concerns that he would not be able to carry out his responsibilities as a board member impartially. 5

Political Contributions

Deborah Sagner has made political contributions to multiple Democratic Party-aligned political action committees, including the JStreet PAC, Movement Voter PAC, Everyday People, ActBlue, and the Build Our Movement PAC. 6

Sagner has contributed to the political campaigns of various Democratic officials since 2008, including the campaigns of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and U.S. Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA). 7

Deborah Sagner provided start-up funding for J Street,8 a left-of-center lobbying organization that has advocated for anti-Israel. Observers have been critical of J Street for its criticism of Israel and its smearing of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and other leading American Jewish organizations. 9

Sagner was previously on the board of directors for the Democracy Alliance, an organization composed of millionaire and billionaire Democratic Party supporters which coordinates donations to left-of-center organizations in order to build power on the political left. 10

Sagner was referenced in the Chronicle of Philanthropy as having supported the Black Lives Matter movement for many years through the Solidaire Network’s Aligned Giving Strategy program.  Black Lives Matter has been criticized for holding left-wing positions and appearing to condone violent demonstrations in its name. 11

Bernie Sanders 2016 Democratic Primary

During the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, Deborah Sagner joined the small list of millionaire donors to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Presidential campaign who collectively urged him to stay in the primary in March 2016 despite strong indications that he would lose. Sagner and other donors urged Sanders to stick through the entire primary up until the July Democratic National Convention. The donors reasoned that despite the strain his presence would place on the Hillary Clinton campaign, Sen. Sanders was right to remain in the race to stay within the national spotlight and normalize the presence of far-left policies within the media to shift the Democratic Party further to the political left. 12


  3. “Alan Sagner, NJ developer who backed liberal and Jewish causes, is dead at 97” Jewish Cleveland News. January 12, 2018. Accessed March 14, 2021.
  4. “Alan Sagner, NJ developer who backed liberal and Jewish causes, is dead at 97” Jewish Cleveland News. January 12, 2018. Accessed March 14, 2021.
  5. “Alan Sagner, NJ developer who backed liberal and Jewish causes, is dead at 97” Jewish Cleveland News. January 12, 2018. Accessed March 14, 2021.
  6. “Deborah Sagner” Federal Election Commission.
  7. “Deborah Sagner” Federal Election Commission.
  8. “J STREET MOURNS THE PASSING OF ALAN SAGNER” J Street. January 10, 2018. Accessed March 13, 2021.
  9. Weinberg, David. “Is J Street Still Pro-Israel?” The Algemeiner, December 23, 2018. Accessed March 13, 2021.
  10. Schouten, Fredreka. “Liberal donors gear up to fund new state-level agenda” USA Today. April 12, 2015. Accessed March 13, 2021.
  11. French, David. “Black Lives Matter: Radicals Using Moderates to Help Tear America Apart” National Review. July 11, 2016. Accessed March 14, 2021.
  12. Strauss, Daniel. “Donors to Bernie: Never surrender” Politico. March 8, 2016. Accessed March 13, 2021.
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