The FBI and federal prosecutors have interviewed another half-dozen people as part of a federal investigation into a land deal made by Jane Sanders, wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), while she was president of Burlington College.
Prosecutors in recent months have obtained boxes of college records, conducted interviews, and even brought a Vermont official before a grand jury to testify, the Washington Post reports. Former trustees of the now-closed college also said that Jane Sanders’ lawyers interviewed them to find out what potential witnesses may be saying to federal investigators.
Sanders’ lawyer called the allegations “baseless” and implied that the investigation is politically motivated.
“While the Obama administration was in office, I don’t think anyone thought that these baseless allegations warranted hiring a lawyer,” Weaver said. “But with [President Donald] Trump and [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions at the helm, that’s a very different situation.”
Bernie Sanders has reacted with hostility to questions about the investigation into his wife. He has called it an “absolute lie” and politically motivated.
“My wife is about the most honest person I know,” he said on CNN. “When she came to that college, it was failing financially and academically. When she left it, it was in better shape than it had ever been.”
The college closed in 2016 after it was unable to reverse the financial difficulties over which Jane Sanders resigned as president.
Sanders obtained a loan to purchase a 33-acre campus for Burlington College while she was president. She projected a surge in enrollment and claimed to have large donations lined up, and so she was able to get the loan with help from the Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Financing Agency. She was wrong on both the enrollment numbers and, critically, the fundraising numbers.
Three major donors said that Sanders misrepresented their pledges. The deal fell through, and Sanders resigned in 2011, reportedly receiving a six-figure severance package.
“I would say everybody is a victim,” then-chairman of the board Adam Dantzscher said. “The community, the students, the employees, the board of directors. Everybody gets hurt.”
Dantzscher blamed Sanders’ mismanagement for the failed land deal. The FBI has been reviewing the college’s financial records since at least February, and the executive director of the Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Financing Agency was asked to testify before a grand jury in April.