CONFIRMED: A grand jury has begun to hear sworn witness testimony in the case involving Bernie Sanders’ wife and top political adviser, Jane Sanders.
To recap: The Obama Justice Department launched a federal probe into allegations that Jane committed bank fraud while she was president of the now-defunct Burlington College, and that Bernie used his official office to grease the wheels on a loan.
Bernie claims that both allegations and political attacks against Jane Sanders are inappropriate, but it’s worth noting that Jane ran Bernie’s first congressional campaign, served as his chief of staff in Congress, was a “central figure” in his presidential campaign, was “very involved” in creating Bernie’s super PAC, launched Bernie’s think tank last year, and was making the rounds on cable news not that long ago.
This past summer, The New York Times described this federal investigation as “threatening to take some of the luster off of the senator’s populist appeal.” As Bernie gets ready to face Vermont voters in 2018 (and potentially Democratic primary voters in 2020), “bank fraud” is the last thing he wants to be talking about.
Grand jury takes sworn testimony in Burlington College case
January 7, 2018
The federal probe into a 2010 land deal orchestrated by former Burlington College president Jane Sanders, wife of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has deepened. VTDigger has confirmed that a grand jury has compelled sworn witness testimony in the case.
The Vermont U.S. Attorney’s office has interviewed at least one witness before the grand jury to determine whether indictments should be handed down.
Former Burlington College board member Robin Lloyd says she testified for about an hour on Oct. 26 before a grand jury at the federal courthouse in Burlington.
Paul Van de Graaf, chief of the criminal division for the U.S. attorney’s office in Vermont, questioned Lloyd about her role as the development chair of the college’s board of trustees during a period when Sanders was collecting donations and pledges for the purchase of a $10 million city lakefront property.
Lloyd, who is publisher of the progressive website Toward Freedom, kept copious board meeting minutes as the development chair for the college. In the interview with Van de Graaf, Lloyd said he “was focused on what I knew about who had been approached for contributions.”
“I helped provide a timeline of what happened — and when — in terms of development,” Lloyd said. “It was general questions about donors, and money coming in.”
Lloyd’s appearance is the first public confirmation that the federal government has compelled a grand jury.
The lingering nature of the federal investigation has frustrated the Sanders family.
According to Politico, the federal probe is “clouding” Sen. Sanders’ outlook and has complicated his decision whether to run for president again in 2020. More immediately, Sanders faces re-election to his Senate seat this year and his step-daughter, Carina Driscoll, has announced a bid for mayor of Burlington.
Burlington College borrowed heavily to finance the purchase of 33 acres of lakefront property from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. The deal relied on pledged donations and projections of increased enrollment. In 2015, VTDigger reported that Jane Sanders overstated pledged donations in the loan document. Two donors listed in the document told VTDigger at that time that their listed pledges were greater than what their personal financial records showed they gave.
VTDigger also interviewed the largest confirmed donor listed in the loan application. Corinne Bove Maietta, a member of the renowned Burlington Bove’s Restaurant family, disputed the manner in which her pledge was represented by Sanders in the loan agreement.
To read more, click here.
Elections Senate 2018