Did the Sanders Trick the Diocese of Burlington Out of Two Million Dollars?
U.S. Is Investigating Jane Sanders Over Burlington College Bank Loan
Federal authorities are investigating a 2010 land deal for a Vermont college that was run at the time by Jane Sanders, the wife of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The deal ultimately contributed to her ouster as president of the college.
The deal involved a $10 million sale of about 33 acres of lakefront property by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington to Burlington College — where Ms. Sanders was president — so the college could relocate and expand.
To finance the purchase, the college needed to borrow from a bank and obtain additional financing from the diocese, according to David V. Dunn, a Burlington College trustee at the time.
A public agency issued a bond, which the bank then bought. The college needed to demonstrate that it had the financial resources to pay the bank loan, which it did by saying that it would receive $2.6 million in donations and that it would also increase its enrollment, Mr. Dunn said. “Neither of those were true,” he said in an interview Monday.
The loan was granted and the purchase was then made based on Ms. Sanders’s assurance that the college would receive millions of dollars in pledged donations that it would use to repay the loan, according to Mr. Dunn and reports by VTDigger and other Vermont news organizations. But some of the pledges turned out to be overstated, and enrollment did not increase.
Federal Investigation Into Jane Sanders, Bernie Sanders’s Wife, Is Getting More Serious
The federal investigation into a land deal led by Jane Sanders, the wife of former presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has picked up speed in recent months, The Washington Post reported Monday. The FBI and federal prosecutors have contacted at least a half-dozen people, seized boxes of records from the college Jane Sanders used to run and called on a state official to testify before a grand jury.
In 2010, Burlington College purchased 32 acres on Lake Champlain for a new campus, with Jane Sanders, the college’s president, telling trustees and lenders that the college had set commitments for millions needed to repay the loan. But many of the donors had not agreed to the amounts or timing of the donations Jane Sanders provided to a bank and a state agency, the Post reported.
Jane Sanders resigned in 2011 as pressure from trustees mounted, and the college closed in 2016. The Sanders spokesman Jeff Weaver told the Post that she had hired a D.C. law firm because she and her husband were worried the Justice Department would use the investigation to stymie a potential campaign by Bernie Sanders in 2020.
As the president of Burlington College, Jane Sanders aimed to raise the college’s profile by moving it to a waterfront property for $10 million. The board decided to purchase the land after Jane Sanders said the college had $2.6 million in “confirmed” donations.
With the help of the Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Financing Agency, the college received a $6.7 million loan from People’s United Bank. The college promised to pay the Diocese of Burlington, which owned the land, $3.65 million over 10 years to cover the whole $10 million purchase. But shortly after the purchase closed, trustees discovered the money Jane Sanders had said was pledged was not coming.
Diocese of Burlington
Jane and Bernie Sanders