If you think Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump were the only 2016 presidential candidates who have gone under the scanner by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, you are grossly mistaken.
Bernie Sanders — the Senate’s Vermont independent and self-described Democratic socialist who hoped to win the Democratic nomination; who wanted to get big money out of politics and restore democracy; who yearned to break up the big banks; and who refused to take money from the super rich or the crooked corporations — is under the FBI investigation, along with his wife Jane, for bank fraud.
Jane is facing charges for falsely inflating donor pledges to obtain a loan in 2010 for the now defunct Burlington College, a small Vermont private school of which she was the president from 2004 to 2011. Bernie is accused of using his influence to lobby/pressure People’s United Bank to grant Burlington College the $10 million loan to purchase 33 acres of land. POLITICO MAGAZINE notes:
“The FBI, it seems, is looking into exactly what Jane Sanders did or didn’t do—and whether her husband Bernie, hero of the progressive left, tried to ease along one of the loans.”
The original request for the FBI investigation into the bank fraud came from Brady Toensing, an attorney who chaired Donald Trump’s Vermont campaign. Toensing, who alleges “Sanders successfully and intentionally engaged in a fraudulent scheme to actively conceal and misrepresent material facts from a federal financial institution”, told CBS News:
“I filed a request for an investigation in January 2016 and an investigation appears to have been started right away. It was started under President Obama, his Attorney General [Loretta Lynch], and his U.S. Attorney, all of whom are Democrats. My only hope is for a fair, impartial, and thorough investigation.”
Burlington College’s yearly budget was only $4 million, but Jane reportedly told People’s United Bank the school had $2.6 million in donor pledges for a $6.7 million loan to purchase the 33 acres of lakefront property from the Archdiocese of Burlington. According to VTDigger, the school only received $676,000 worth of donations from 2010 to 2014.
“That’s far less than the $5 million Sanders listed as likely pledges in the loan agreement, and less than a third of the $2.14 million Sanders had promised People’s Bank the college would collect in cash during the four-year period.
“The school paid $10 million for the land, which was also supported by a $3.5 million loan from the diocese. Jane was pushed out of Burlington College soon after the purchase and the school was forced to shut its doors in the spring of 2016 due to its huge amount of debt.”
Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ political adviser, claims Toensing’s allegation is “a baseless and false political charge” as “the loan was approved by the financial board at the College”. Bernie claims “the implication is nonsense” as it “comes from Donald Trump’s campaign manager, somebody who has gone after a number of Democrats and progressives in Vermont”.
Nonetheless, the couple has now hired some of the nation’s top lawyers — Burlington attorney Rich Cassidy [to represent Bernie] and Washington attorney Larry Robbins [to represent Jane] — indicating the seriousness of an apparent “nonsensical” issue.