Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane have lawyer'd up amid an FBI investigation into a loan obtained to expand Burlington College while she was its president.
As we noted just over a year ago, Burlington College, a small Vermont private school once led by the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, said Monday it will close later this month, citing "the crushing weight" of debt incurred during the presidency of Jane Sanders who was in charge of the college until 2011.
According to WaPo, the college which enrolled 224 students as of fall 2014, said it faced financial troubles connected to its 2010 purchase of 32 acres of lakefront property from the Archdiocese of Burlington, according to the Burlington Free Press. The college said it had sold property to reduce its debt to a manageable level, but it was placed on probation in 2014 by its accrediting agency and it faced cash flow problems due to the imminent loss of a line of credit.
The reason for the small liberal school's terminal financial trouble is that to fund the property purchase from the Catholic diocese, Sanders took out $10 million in loans. As HeatStreet reported last year, the college almost immediately fell short on its financial obligations as fundraising pledges and commitments Ms. Sanders cited in the loan agreements never materialized. Less than a year after leading Burlington College into massive debt, Ms. Sanders resigned, taking with her a $200,000 severance package. By 2014, because of its shaky finances and running deficits, Burlington College found itself placed on probation for two years by the regional accreditation agency.
Jane Sanders was president of the college from 2004 to 2011. Her husband, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a former mayor of Burlington, served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 2007 and since then has represented Vermont in the U.S. Senate.
Jane Sanders stepped down in 2011 amid a dispute with the college’s board. After her husband launched his presidential campaign, news stories emerged that scrutinized her role in a loan application for the lakefront real-estate purchase. Jane Sanders has dismissed those stories as politically motivated and said the issue was not a factor in her departure from the college.
A Burlington College news release issued this morning called these financial hurdles insurmountable at this time.
And now, as Politico Magazine first reported the Sanders have hired lawyers to defend them in the probe.
Sanders' top adviser Jeff Weaver told CBS News the couple has sought legal protection over federal agents' allegations from a January 2016 complaint accusing then-President of Burlington College, Ms. Sanders, of distorting donor levels in a 2010 loan application for $10 million from People's United Bank to purchase 33 acres of land for the institution.
According to Politico, prosecutors might also be looking into allegations that Sen. Sanders' office inappropriately urged the bank to approve the loan.
Brady Toensing of Burlington, the man responsible for the claims filed to the U.S. attorney for Vermont, was a chairman for the Trump campaign in his state.
"I filed a request for an investigation in January 2016 and an investigation appears to have been started right away," he said in an email to CBS News. "It was started under President Obama, his Attorney General, and his U.S. Attorney, all of whom are Democrats."
"My only hope is for a fair, impartial, and thorough investigation," Toensing added.
Weaver told CBS News that Toensing's claim that Sen. Sanders used his influence to lobby for the loan is a "political charge" that is "baseless" and "false."
Interesting that a growing number of people around Hillary Clinton are suddenly under FBI scrutiny?