FBI ramping up investigation into Jane Sanders
The FBI is intensifying its investigation into a land deal made by Jane Sanders, wife of Bernie Sanders, while she was president of Burlington College. Several lenders accuse Mrs. Sanders of falsifying loan applications in order to get millions of dollars to purchase 33 acres of riverfront land in Vermont where she planned to expand the college's campus.
Bernie Sanders becomes incensed when any reporter asks about the investigation, and he claims that the probe is politically motivated.
Prosecutors in recent months have obtained boxes of college records, conducted interviews, and even brought a Vermont official before a grand jury to testify, the Washington Post reports. Former trustees of the now-closed college also said that Jane Sanders' lawyers interviewed them to find out what potential witnesses may be saying to federal investigators.
Sanders' lawyer called the allegations "baseless" and implied that the investigation is politically motivated.
"While the Obama administration was in office, I don’t think anyone thought that these baseless allegations warranted hiring a lawyer," Weaver said. "But with [President Donald] Trump and [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions at the helm, that’s a very different situation."
Bernie Sanders has reacted with hostility to questions about the investigation into his wife. He has called it an "absolute lie" and politically motivated.
"My wife is about the most honest person I know," he said on CNN. "When she came to that college, it was failing financially and academically. When she left it, it was in better shape than it had ever been."
The college closed in 2016 after it was unable to reverse the financial difficulties over which Jane Sanders resigned as president.
Sanders obtained a loan to purchase a 33-acre campus for Burlington College while she was president. She projected a surge in enrollment and claimed to have large donations lined up, and so she was able to get the loan with help from the Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Financing Agency. She was wrong on both the enrollment numbers and, critically, the fundraising numbers.
Three major donors said that Sanders misrepresented their pledges. The deal fell through, and Sanders resigned in 2011, reportedly receiving a six-figure severance package.
"I would say everybody is a victim," then-chairman of the board Adam Dantzscher said. "The community, the students, the employees, the board of directors. Everybody gets hurt."
Dantzscher blamed Sanders' mismanagement for the failed land deal. The FBI has been reviewing the college's financial records since at least February, and the executive director of the Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Financing Agency was asked to testify before a grand jury in April.
Jane Sanders saddled Burlington College with so much debt they were unable to get out from under the financial mess she left behind and folded in 2016. The idea, as her husband says, that she left the college in better financial shape than when she began is ludicrous - and a lie.
Also a lie - the notion that the investigation was begun by the Trump administration. In fact, the Obama Justice Department initiated the original FBI probe.
A spokesperson for the FBI’s field office in Albany, New York, said per policy, she could not comment on whether an investigation exists. She also declined to give her name, also citing policy. Kraig LaPorte, a spokesman for the Vermont U.S. Attorney’s Office, also declined to comment Tuesday.
Bradley, the trustee, said he had first known about the investigation about 15 months ago, before the closure of the college. He said Holm had alerted him and other board members of the investigation. Bradley said from his understanding, an FBI agent was the first to contact the college.
Bradley said he ran into a fellow board member, Sarah Adsit-McCuin, several weeks ago who he said told him that she had been interviewed by the FBI. Bradley estimated the FBI interview had taken place several weeks before their run-in.
So the initial stages of the investigation were launched while Barack Obama was still in office.
The crux of the investigation will focus on whether Sanders knowingly falsified the records or whether she was misled by potential donors. In other words, is Sanders an ignoramus or a crook?
Of course, she could be both. The notion that enrollment would spike just because a campus is located on the riverfront in Burlington rather than in the run-down industrial center of the city is pretty stupid. And liberal arrogance that proclaims good intentions outweighs any violations of the law is not an excuse.
Jane Sanders is in trouble and likely to sink her husband's 2020 presidential ambitions.