Senator Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane Sanders hired lawyers this week in the face of a criminal FBI fraud investigation into a loan awarded to the now-defunct Burlington College. Jane Sanders allegedly falsified loan documents for the school while serving as its president, and her husband’s Senate office reportedly also weighed in on the matter, urging the bank to approve the loan.
From a May report in The Hill:
The college began to face financial difficulties during Sanders’s tenure from 2004 to 2011, falling $10 million into debt when the school purchased a new campus in 2010.
Sanders has been accused of falsifying the information on the loan documents in order to expand the college grounds.
The VTdigger.org reported that some of the donors Sanders appealed to for help with loans are now in contact with the FBI and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
In May 2016, the college shut its doors for good, declaring bankruptcy after it failed to meet the accreditation standards set by the New England Association of Schools after being placed on probation in July 2014.
“Burlington attorney and Sanders supporter Rich Cassidy has reportedly been hired to represent Sen. Sanders,” and “high-profile Washington defense attorney Larry Robbins, who counseled Libby ‘Scooter’ Robbins, former Chief of Staff for the Vice President, is [representing] Jane Sanders,” according to CBS News.
Sen. Sanders has called the allegations “nonsense,” telling WCAX News that it would be “inappropriate” to comment on it, though he did dismiss the allegations because they originated with the chairperson of Donald Trump’s campaign in Vermont.
Sanders and his wife have been trying to ignore the federal investigation since reporters for VTDigger, an online publication, confirmed the FBI’s involvement in April. The original request for an investigation into the potential bank fraud did indeed come from Brady Toensing, an attorney who chaired Trump’s Vermont campaign, and whose January 2016 letter to the U.S. attorney for Vermont put federal agents on the trail. (Toensing, in an email to Politico Magazine, notes, “The investigation was started more than a year ago under President Obama, his Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and his United States Attorney, all of whom are Democrats.”)
As we reported, Sen. Sanders is the most popular active politician in America, and he claims that this investigation is an attempt to change that. The original complaint was raised well after Sanders started his presidential campaign.
In hiring lawyers, the Sanderses are sending a clear signal that while they still dispute the merit of the allegations against them, they are taking the investigation it started much more seriously.
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