The wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders is under federal investigation for her role in a land deal that went bad, and the Vermont senator has slammed reports of the investigation as “pathetic” and believes his wife to be “the most honest person I know.”
Because Sanders hasn’t ruled out a presidential run in 2020, any federal investigation has the potential to become disastrous or, at the very least, politically embarrassing. And because the scandal touches on the themes of education costs and six-figure severance packages – two issues that were central to Sanders’ populist message – discussing the investigations at all could tarnish his brand as a champion of the little guy.
Via Conservative Fighters:
Progressive Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and his wife Jane Sanders are under investigation for bank fraud after Jane Sanders allegedly fabricated favorable donor pledges in her request to obtain a bank loan while serving as the President of Burlington College. Now, a number of supposed donors are coming forward to expose the Sanders’ fraud, according to the Burlington Free Press.
The FBI launched an investigation into Jane Sanders after a federal agent filed a criminal complaint against the senator’s wife. In 2010, Jane Sanders applied for a $10 million loan with the People’s United Bank to purchase 33-acres of land and the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington.
In order to obtain the loan, Jane Sanders provided the bank with a donor list reporting $2.67 million in confirmed pledges to the college, and an additional 2.5 million in unconfirmed donations. The college needed to raise $6 million to cover the debt on the $10 million loan.
Burlington College was ultimately forced to close down in 2016 and cited the 2010 bank loan, and the inability to pay their debts, as the primary reason for the school’s closure.
Former board members claimed that they became suspicious of Jane Sanders actions in the summer of 2011. Jane Sanders stepped down as president that year and received a $200,000 severance package, according to CBS News.
The FBI is also investigating Senator Bernie Sanders to determine if his office attempted to influence the People’s United Bank to help his wife obtain the risky loan.
Jane Sanders presented a cryptic donor list to the bank including the initials of donors next to their supposed pledges. However, at least four of the donors listed in the document have come forward exposing the document as a fraud.
The document listed donations from 14 trustees of the school. So far, three have come forward claiming that the donor list exaggerated their pledges. One trustee, RM, was reported donating $5,000, however, in a statement, the trustee said, “I humbly admit that my pledge was lower than that.” Trustee RL, claims to have donated $30,000, but he was listed as offering twice that. The final trustee was listed as an $18,000 donor, even though he never made a pledge.
Two donors who were confirmed on the list for $1 million contributions have also denied making the pledges. Corinne Bove Maietta was marked for a $1 million donation upon her death, however, she denies ever making the pledge. Tony Pomerleau was also listed as an incoming million dollar donor, however, the document failed to acknowledge that the donation was meant to match other fundraising efforts and would only be paid if $1 million was raised elsewhere.
Adam Bortz, leader of the college’s alumni association says he was devastated when Burlington College was forced to close their doors, adding that the board of trustees was fully responsible for the school’s closure.
Although Bernie and Jane Sanders haven’t said much about the investigation until recently, Bernie Sanders predicted in an interview with The Washington Post that it wouldn’t amount to anything, and he attempted to cast the probe as partisan.
“This was a story that just, amazingly enough, came out in the middle of my presidential campaign, initiated by Donald Trump’s campaign manager in Vermont,” Sanders stated, according to The Post. “That’s about it. I don’t think it’ll be a distraction.”
“[This] was initiated by Trump’s campaign manager, somebody who does this all of the time, has gone after a number of Democrats and progressives in this state,” the Vermont senator also said, the Huffington Post reported.
A Sanders’ political adviser called the accusations baseless and said the loan was approved by the college board, reported Huffington Post.