Federal prosecutors step up probe of land deal pushed by wife of Bernie Sanders – Washington Post


Jane Sanders, wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), stands by her husband after a rally in 2015 during his presidential campaign. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

A federal investigation of a land deal led by Jane Sanders, the wife and political adviser of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has accelerated in recent months — with prosecutors hauling off more than a dozen boxes of records from the Vermont college she once ran and calling a state official to testify before a grand jury, according to interviews and documents. 

Half a dozen people said in interviews in recent days that they had been contacted by the FBI or federal prosecutors, and former college trustees told The Washington Post that attorneys representing Jane Sanders had interviewed them to learn what potential witnesses might tell the government.

The investigation centers on the 2010 land purchase that relocated Burlington College to a new campus on more than 32 acres along Lake Champlain. While lining up a $6.7 million loan and additional financing, Jane Sanders told college trustees and lenders that the college had commitments for millions of dollars in donations that could be used to repay the loan, according to former trustees and state officials.

Trustees said they later discovered that many of the donors had not agreed to the amounts or the timing of the donations listed on documents Jane Sanders provided to a state bonding agency and a bank. That led to her resignation in 2011 amid complaints from some trustees that she had provided inaccurate information, former college officials said. 

The land deal, the officials said, became a financial albatross for the 160-student school, contributing to its closure last year. 

The questions from government investigators, as described by those who were interviewed or received subpoenas for documents, suggest that the inquiry is focused on Jane Sanders and alleged bank fraud, and not on her husband. But the inquiry could nonetheless create a political liability for the senator, who was a candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination and is the progressive movement’s most popular leader.  

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