The FBI is looking into whether Bernie Sanders’ wife fraudulently obtained a $10 million loan for a Burlington College expansion, Fox News reports. Bernie Sanders dismissed the allegations as a “pathetic” and political attack.
When Jane O’Meara Sanders was president of the college, the loan occurred for the purpose of obtaining 33 acres of lakefront property to improve and expand the school. Mrs. Sanders has since moved on, and the school is now closed.
Mrs. Sanders structured the loan in two parts -- $6.5 million from People’s United Bank, and $3.65 million second mortgage from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. To secure the money, she submitted a spreadsheet that attempted to show the school had $2.4 million in confirmed pledges, grants and other funds to repay the debt.
But according to Fox News, the spreadsheet contained 40 separate entries denoted vaguely, only by initials, such as “friends” or “faculty and staff.” Subsequently, the school found problems in trying to repay the debt.
Only a year after the deal was signed, the school had collected only $279,000 of the confirmed pledges, according to VTDigger.org Some of the money ($1 million over roughly six years) was supposed to be given to the college upon the death of Corinne Bove Maitta, a college supporter.
Caleb Burns, a partner at the Washington law firm Wiley Rein, which specializes in election law and government ethics, said that “much of the attention has been focused on whether Mrs. Sanders has violated any laws in connection with the bank loan. But Senator Sanders may have to worry about ethics violations of his own, if the bank loan was not provided on a commercially reasonable basis, but because of Mrs. Sander’s relationship to a United States senator.”
Mrs. Sanders resigned in 2011, and by 2016, Burlington College had closed, due in part to the overwhelming debt from the loan.
Burns’ law firm, representing several “aggrieved Vermont parishioners”, filed the complaint, asking U.S. officials to investigate “what appears to be federal loan fraud,” as a result of the apparent “overstatement” or “misrepresentation” of confirmed contributions and grants, according to Fox News.
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