If there’s anything good to be said about Bernie Sanders, it’s that he’s been the least scandalous of the candidates thus far. Maybe that’s not all that impressive when you consider who he’s running against.
One of the scandals that has plagued Trump’s campaign surrounds “Trump University,” a for-profit online school started by the candidate that has been swamped by lawsuits.
A lesser known fact is that Jane Sanders, Bernie’s wife, was herself once in charge of a college. The school was Burlington College, a small private liberal arts college in Vermont.
Liberals like to talk about Trump’s bankruptcies and questionable venture into higher education, but as HeatStreet reports, we should extend that attention to the other side of the aisle:
Catholic parishioners in Vermont want Bernie Sanders’ wife investigated for federal bank fraud, according to a letter sent to the U.S. attorney in January and reviewed by Heat Street.
When Jane O’Meara Sanders served as president of Burlington College between 2004 and 2011, she oversaw an aggressive effort to enroll more students and expand the campus to accommodate a bigger student body. Part of that plan: Taking out hefty loans to finance the $10 million purchase of 32 acres of prime property from the Roman Catholic diocese at the end of 2010.
Her strategy wasn’t unorthodox. Spend a ton of money “reinventing” the campus, which hopefully ends up paying for itself in the form of increased enrollment and alumni giving. As we know from government however, throwing money at a problem doesn’t always necessarily fix it.
But Burlington College soon found itself unable to make its loan payments. The Roman Catholic diocese, which had sold off the land to help pay for a $17 million sexual-abuse settlement, ultimately lost between $1.5 million and $2 million, according to the letter calling for investigation, as well as several Vermont media outlets.
Parishioners now say that to secure loans to buy the land, Ms. Sanders misrepresented the amount that had been pledged to the college in its fundraising push.
The request for investigation notes that defrauding a bank is a federal crime; it’s punishable by up to 30 years in prison and $1 million in fines, according to federal code.
By publication, neither Ms. Sanders nor the Sanders campaign had responded to Heat Street’s detailed query, sent by email.
If this is what the Sanders family will do with the tuition of college students – who knows what crazy idea they’ll try on the taxpayer’s dime.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]