Amid a deepening federal investigation of Jane Sanders, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ wife, Judicial Watch has obtained records that paint a rather disturbing personal portrait of a heartless spouse—and longtime political advisor—of the Democratic Socialist candidate for president of the United States. During the Obama administration, the FBI began investigating Jane for falsifying documents to obtain a $10 million loan to expand a now-defunct liberal arts college in a town where her husband once served as mayor while she was the school’s president.
The school, Burlington College, was in a small city with the same name in northwestern Vermont. It’s a quaint town of about 42,000 that sits on the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain and prides itself on having “diverse, forward-thinking citizens” that are “steeped in arts and culture.” Jane was president of the troubled college from 2004 to 2011 and in 2010, she had an ambitious plan to expand the campus by 33 acres, despite low enrollment and financial difficulties. The then-president of Burlington College drastically overstated donation amounts in loan applications, according to the Vermont news website that broke the story, to obtain a $10 million loan. Jane indicated there was $2.6 million in pledged donations but the school only got $676,000 in four years.
The loan went through, some allege after her husband’s senatorial office pressured the bank to approve it, and Jane masterminded a deal to purchase an undeveloped, 32-acre parcel of land and a 77,000-square-foot facility from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. The purchase included a facility that served as a group home for disabled people and, under the terms of the deal, Jane was supposed to negotiate the transfer of the disabled residents before the school took over the property. Instead Jane tried to kick the disabled people out of their group home, records obtained by Judicial Watch show. The records, part of an ongoing Judicial Watch investigation into the Jane Sanders fraud case, include electronic mail exchanges between Jane when she was president of Burlington College and two former mayors of the city of Burlington.
In a lengthy letter to the attorney (Todd Centybear) representing the group home for the disabled Jane indicates that she’s having trouble evicting the 16 residents from their building on the newly purchased property after the college had acquired the land. She writes: “It is simply not fair to expect the College to continue to carry the burden of the expenses associated with housing both your population and ours until February 2012.” The home for the disabled was being leased from the diocese and Jane was supposed to help relocate the residents, not evict them. The exchange shows, not only Jane’s heartlessness, but also her incompetence as the college president for not ensuring the negotiated transfer of those disabled people before the school took over the property.
In a separate email to then Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss, Jane forwards a laughable press release issued by the college announcing her resignation. “I wanted you to hear it from me,” she writes to the mayor. “It’s a good decision.” The press release announced that “In honor of her significant accomplishments, the College has given Sanders the title of President Emerita…” It adds that “The Board credits Sanders with negotiating the acquisition of its beautiful new 32-acre lakefront campus, a transformative achievement for the College.” In reality, the acquisition of that property bankrupted the College, and Sanders is now being investigated for bank fraud by the FBI for misrepresentations she made on loan documents to purchase the land for the campus.
Senator Sanders, who is up for reelection this year, hit the media circuit this week to defend his wife, assuring that she’s the most honest person he knows and that the investigation is politically motivated. “When you go after people’s wives that is really pathetic,” he said in a recent interview, adding that “it’s fairly pathetic that when people are involved in public life, it’s not only that they get attacked, but it’s their wives and their families that get attacked. That’s what this is about.” The couple lawyered up this week, hiring two prominent attorneys, one in Burlington and the other in Washington D.C. Also, this month, Jane launched a nonprofit organization, the Sanders Institute, to “revitalize democracy” with progressive policies aimed at racial and social justice as well as environmental and economic issues.