Sen. Bernie Sanders’ claims that an ongoing FBI probe of his wife is based on partisan politics don’t square with the fact that it began under President Obama and appears to closely track Democratic opposition research revealed in the hacked emails of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The FBI and U.S. Attorney in Vermont are investigating Jane O’Meara Sanders for her role in a failed 2010, $10 million college land deal that she orchestrated during her seven-year stint as president of Burlington College in Vermont.
According to a series of 2015 emails to and from Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, leaked to and published on Wikileaks, the Clinton team wrote an extensive political opposition memo entitled “Sanders Top Hits-Thematics.” The memo details Mrs. Sanders’ role in the college’s financial failure, and parallels the ongoing FBI investigation, now before a grand jury, into the scandal. Other email correspondence shows the Clinton team believed scandals surrounding the college and Jane Sanders provided an opportunity to knock the Vermont senator’s reputation and chances to win the Democratic primary election.
“I think our first question is how are we going to defeat Sanders. … he’s not who he says he is — gun votes, DSCC money, Jane. There may be other options too but these seem to be the strongest attacks to consider. How we undermine Sanders candidacy is our threshold question,” a Clinton campaign official wrote in the fall 2015.
Attaching to an email the “hits” piece with potentially damaging about Mrs. Sanders, another official wrote: “We have a meeting scheduled on Thursday to discuss next steps on Bernie Sanders … we’d like for everyone to come having reviewed the material and ready to discuss which hits and themes we want to deploy.”
The so called “hits” piece also included a passage headed “O’Meara Sanders brokered a risky and potentially fraudulent purchase that nearly bankrupted the college.”
“After several years as the president of Burlington College, Jane O’Meara Sanders resigned amid speculation that she conflicted with the board and [didn’t] bring in enough money for the school. Critics later tied her to the school’s financial trouble after she brokered a deal to borrow $10 million to buy land for the college,” Clinton’s team summed up in a political opposition memo. “Members of the lending agency expressed concern over the college’s ability to repay the loan, and one suggested that if O’Meara Sanders was not involved, the loan would not have been approved.”
The opposition research also highlighted numerous media reports, summarizing related scandals, including the fact that Mrs. Sanders took a $200,000 golden parachute when she left the college and, before that, arranged a deal where Burlington College paid her daughter’s company, The Vermont Woodworking School, $55,000, as part of a craftsman decree.
The trigger for the ongoing investigation into Jane Sanders came in January 2016 when a lawyer representing a Roman Catholic parishioner in the Burlington diocese filed a complaint with federal authorities about the land deal. The legal complaint of the attorney, who was the Vermont state chairman for the Trump campaign, stated that the deal led to a $2 million loss for the diocese. full story