Tr🍩ll Smear #15: “Bernie and Jane are Corrupt – Look at the Burlington College Deal”

Tr🍩ll Smear #15: “Bernie and Jane are Corrupt – Look at the Burlington College Deal”

The screwy accusation of “bank fraud” started by right-wing smear merchants and now pushed by anti-Bernie Democrats and most recently, the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board.

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Dr. Jane Sanders, shown here in Marshalltown, Iowa on Jan. 10., has been accused of exacting a severe financial toll on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. But Vermont Bishop Christopher Coyne says the accusation is without merit. ANDREW HARNIK / AP

This smear had two iterations:

1) Jane Sanders committed bank fraud to obtain a loan for her employer, Burlington College, based on false income projections from donors.

2) Bernie Sanders worked with his wife Jane to commit fraud by applying “political pressure” to the bank that provided the loan

UPDATE: FBI SAYS “NO CHARGES” FOR JANE SANDERS

The first thing you should know is that In November 2018 Jane Sanders was informed that Vermont’s U.S. attorney had concluded its investigation and that NO CHARGES would be brought against Jane or anyone else.

What follows here is now simply an historical FYI.

Background:

Burlington College went bankrupt FIVE YEARS after Jane Sanders left as President.

Jane Sanders served as President of Burlington College until she resigned in 2011 after having arranged financing for a major ($10 million) expansion of the campus.

Five (5) years after she resigned, the college was unable to carry on with its loan payments and went bankrupt.

For more in-depth background read this article by April McCullum in the Burlington Free Press (Feb 26, 2019).

The False Complaint

This smear is based on a complaint that was filed with the Vermont US District Attorney’s office in 2016 by one Brady Toensing, the VT Vice Chair of the GOP and a well-known conservative bag man famous for stirring up trouble for Vermont Democrats and liberals. As Paste Magazine explains:

Brady Toensing practically defines vexatious litigation (harassment suits).

Toensing, also a junior partner at diGenova and Toensing, a DC law firm with a reputation for slinging mud at Democrats (Victoria Toensing, Brady’s mother and senior partner at the firm, was a prominent voice from the right during the Benghazi boondoggle), filed a formal complaint in January of 2016, with the U.S. Attorney alleging willful misconduct by Sanders, which prompted the DOJ investigation into the school’s closure.

Toensing claims to have filed the complaint “on behalf” of member of the Catholic diocese of Burlington, which he claims was damaged through the sale of the property to Burlington College when it was under Jane Sanders’s management. The main thrust of his complaint is that the property owned by the diocese was bought for $10 million, but the church only received $8 million. According to Toensing this means that the Diocese was damaged by that $2 million shortfall.

The Actuality
The Church itself does not agree with Toensing’s claim. Quite the opposite, in fact. As Bishop Christopher Coyne told Vermont Public Radio:

“At the time, we were very satisfied with the $10 million purchase price on a property that was assessed … at $6 million. So the offer from Burlington College was about $4 million more than the property was worth,” says Coyne …

“We’re very satisfied with the outcome at the end, even though we didn’t receive the full $10 million,” Coyne says of the settlement. “We walked away with a pretty good price, and at this point we’re not interested in pursuing any further matter in this.”

The Result
If there is one thing you need to know from this story, it is that the Church actually ended up receiving $8 million for a piece of property that was appraised at only $6 million.
In short:

  1. There is no victim: the alleged victim actually benefited from the deal
  2. The Sanders family received nothing from the transaction
  3. Neither Bernie nor Jane can be said to have benefited in any way from the alleged “fraud”

Why were the FBI involved?
The FBI are bound to investigate every complaint that is duly filed in a District Attorney. However, the FBI has not said that anyone is a target of the investigation and so far there have been no criminal or civil charges even discussed in this matter. The entire smear was a totally fabricated case made up by a local GOP operative known for filing false accusations.

TURN IT AROUND

If someone comes at you with this smear, ask them why they are on the same side as the Toensing family, who persecuted Hillary Clinton for Benghazi. Ask them why they are helping Brady Toensing, who was the Trump campaign manager for Vermont.