Politics

Vermont GOP official requests federal probe into Jane Sanders fraud allegations

Burlington College President Jane O’Meara Sanders. Photo courtesy of Burlington College.
Former Burlington College President Jane O’Meara Sanders. Photo courtesy of Burlington College.
BURLINGTON — Vermont GOP Vice Chair Brady Toensing, a Charlotte attorney, is asking federal officials to investigate alleged fraud by former Burlington College President Jane Sanders.

In a Jan. 10 letter sent to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Inspector General, Toensing asks that they investigate “what appears to be federal loan fraud” by Sanders in Burlington College’s 2010 purchase of the former Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington headquarters.

Sanders, as president, helped the college secure loans to buy the former diocese property located on 33-acres of lakefront. She resigned in 2011 as doubts emerged about her ability to raise donations and expand enrollment to pay for the purchase.

In the years that followed, more than $1 million in confirmed donations listed by Sanders in loan documents never materialized, as previously reported by VTDigger.

When the diocese settled a loan with the college last year, the church lost as much as $2 million, according to financial statements from the diocese obtained by VTDigger.

Burlington College could not afford the new campus, and nearly went bankrupt before selling much of the land to developer Eric Farrell last year. Farrell recently inked a development deal with the city to build housing on a portion of the land.

Toensing’s firm, diGenova & Toensing LLP, sent the complaint letter on behalf of Wendy Wilton, a parishioner with the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Rutland, and other “aggrieved Vermont parishioners.”

Toensing writes that the “apparent fraud” led to significant financial losses for the church, and that Sanders’ “privileged status” as the wife of a senator “inoculated” her dealings from proper scrutiny. “This privileged status, however, should not inoculate her from the scrutiny, culpability and accountability of a federal investigation,” he writes.

Reached by phone Monday, Jane Sanders declined to comment. Michael Briggs, a spokesman for the senator’s presidential campaign, said in an email later Monday that, “As Bernie gains in national polls showing him defeating Republican presidential candidates, it is not surprising that Republican operatives are slinging mud at him and his family.”

Briggs dismissed the allegations as “recycled, discredited garbage” and highlighted Toensing’s connections to the Vermont Republican Party. “Attacks” like the ones leveled by Toensing are “one of the reasons why the American people are so disgusted with politics in America today,” Briggs added.

Jane Sanders has not responded to multiple interview requests from VTDigger in the past year and previously declined to answer a set of written questions about loan documents which bear her signature.

Burlington College
Burlington College, and the former headquarters of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. Photo by Phoebe Sheehan

Toensing and Wilton, a 2012 Republican candidate for state treasurer, said Monday that the letter was not motivated by partisanship or a desire to hurt Sanders’ presidential campaign. Instead, they hope it could potentially help the church recoup its losses through the legal system, they said.

“I don’t expect anyone from (Sanders’) party is going to be raising these issues,” Toensing said. “The complaint I put together is driven by facts. People can read those facts and draw their own conclusions.”

Toensing writes in the letter that the losses “materially” impact the church’s charitable activities, and Wilton says they have impaired “(the diocese’s) ability to fulfill their very important social mission.”

Bishop Christopher Coyne and Rev. Msgr. John McDermott did not respond to requests for comment Monday. Wilton said she would not speculate as to why church officials haven’t raised the loss as an issue.

U.S. Attorney Eric Miller said in an email that his office does not comment on public requests for criminal investigations. “Every such request is evaluated for appropriate action, and my office is committed to enforcing federal law in a neutral and impartial manner,” Miller added.

Messages sent to the FDIC Inspector General’s office requesting comment were not returned Monday.

Sanders involvement in the Burlington College land deal

In loan documents from 2010, Sanders overstated the pledged donations of at least two people listed as confirmed donors in a list of pledges used to secure a $6.7 million from People’s United Bank, according to a VTDigger investigation.

People’s United Bank has previously refused to comment on the loan, which was settled when the college sold the land to developer Eric Farrell.

Toensing writes in the complaint that it’s impossible to know how much money People’s United Bank lost on its loan (that information is not public), but ultimately that’s irrelevant, he says because federal banking laws don’t require that fraud materially impact the lending institution, only that the deception was intentional.

Ultimately, the school only collected $676,000 of the $2.14 million Sanders listed in confirmed pledges, sending the school into dire financial straits and resulting in the sale of much of the lakefront property last year. Sanders resigned in 2011 under pressure from the board of trustees, who still gave her a $200,000 early exit package.

The diocese also loaned Burlington College $3.65 million in 2010 to help the school afford the $10 million purchase price for the land. Financial statements from the diocese show it wrote off $996,000 in principal payments on that loan, and did not receive between $593,000 and $923,000 in interest payments accrued during the life of the loan, which was settled earlier this year — a total of as much as $2 million.

Church officials have refused to comment on the losses, but Chief Financial Officer Martin Hoak did not dispute that the loan was not fully repaid.

Instead he argued that the property was only worth $6 million, and that therefore “funds received above that amount are a premium, and any amounts not collected on the loan reduces our premium, but are not a loss.”

However, Boston-based Joseph J. Blake and Associates appraised the property for $11.9 million in 2010 and at that time the city of Burlington valued the property at $19.8 million.



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  • Randy Jorgensen

    Why does this have to be political?

    It certainly gets tiresome…

  • Barry Clark

    This will be a dog and pony show. US Attorney for VT, Eric Miller was appointed by Gov Shumlin. He was appointed soon after his wife, Liz Miller left The Shumlin administration. She was his Chief of Staff. This avoided a conflict of interest but I view it as a prime example of political cronyism run amuck. He probably owes the democrats a favor but will he do the right thing? I guess we will have to wait and see.

    • robert bristow-johnson

      how does a Governor of a state make an appointment to a federal government position? perhaps the Guv can make a recommendation to the Prez, but it ain’t in a state governor’s purview to make federal appointments.

      • Neil Johnson

        you pass marijuana legalization, you push a health care system that doesn’t work, costs more money and monopolizes our system, gun control change in a state with the lowest gun crimes.

        When you pal around with the president on many occasions….it’s a pretty short trip between our governor and the president, and we get to be the test bed for all democratic ideas….see it’s easy, we’re a blue state with a one party system.

    • Jim Condos

      Actually, Eric Miller was nominated by Senator Leahy, appointed by President Obama, and confirmed by the US Senate.

  • Thomas Powell

    Toensing and Wilton are GOP gadflies. Their nonsense is classic howling at the moon to undermine Sanders. They must be nervous.

  • fred moss

    Sanders is running all over the country saying college is expensive while his wife is pulling in a ridiculous salary and then a ridiculous severance package. Very important story. Remember, Bernie routinely attacks private citizens ( Koch brothers to name one), yet he will say this is a witch hunt.

    • Neil Johnson

      And Vermont doesn’t need an ethic committee……perhaps we should changer our motto from the Green Mountain State, to Inside deals are us.

    • Alex Aloi

      Are saying that what is going on with Jane sanders is the equivalent of a “private citizens” like the Kochs attempting to use their vast wealth to buy elections? Wealth created through exploitation, extraction, and gaming the tax code?

      I am just not seeing it.

      • Neil Johnson

        No, clearly I didn’t say that. I’m saying our D- Ethics might suggest we need improvement. Our rampant solar mill production, spear headed by a select few lobbyist…. Have you heard of Bloomberg? We have manipulators on both sides of the isle, and they are all manipulators for their own benefit. And a golden parachute for a failed college is not different than a golden parachute for stock brokers that lose investors money. We are really good at sweeping things under rugs in Vermont.

        Meanwhile you and I screw up and we get unemployment.

      • Clyde Cook

        You would probably be interested to know that the Kochs (paraphrasing their statements in recent interviews) are throwing their money around in various elections because they do not like the direction the country is going. They feel the only difference between the Democrats and the Republican is that the Democrats want to drive the car off the cliff at 100 miles per hour, the Republicans are only willing to bring it up to 75. In both instances we are going over the cliff and neither major party really cares to do anything about it. In other words, the both are to blame.

    • Richard Ratico
      • Clyde Cook

        Please don’t bring up Hitler and what he did to try to exterminate a race of people. Vermont has a pretty sordid history of enacting Eugenics programs that did a lot to destroy the Abenaki Indians, along with 31 other states that tried to reduce the “undesirables” that were a burden to society. And it all got started long before he came along.

  • bruce wilkie

    A classic example of how republicans always try to slime their way into the Presidency.

    • Clyde Cook

      Yep, Hillary is as pure as the snow that falls around us this time of year. One might argue that Bill Clinton, with Hillary steadfast by his side, was the originator of the war on women. Sarcasm will be switched off now.

  • Kendal Sykes

    Wouldn’t you love to know if Wendy Wilton sought out an attorney and just happened to have found diGenova & Toensing LLP in the phone book ? What an amazing coincidence she’d select a firm whose partner is a leading GOP official.

    Or is the ANY CHANCE that Brady Toensing went “client shopping” to find someone they could assist to file a complaint?

    I hope VT Digger will interview and check out Ms. Wilton’s background, story, and any motivations (or encouragements) to file a request to investigate Bernie Sanders… Oops, I mean Jane Sanders.

    • Andi Rosin

      I hope they check out Ms. Wilton as well. She has been a critic of Bernie for quite a while. I have read her BFP and other Vermont news sources over the years and her posts have been critical of Bernie.

      I also find it odd that this suddenly came to light when Bernie poll numbers were rising. And also telling is the fact that it is the VT Repubilcan Party instigating this. I do not believe it is not politically motivated.

      The Church itself never raised the issue, in fact, a few years ago this matter was settled.
      This is obviously politically motivated and most Vermonters do not like dirty politics.

      • Frank Beardsley

        Certainly Andi – let’s call the Stasi immediately and have all critics investigated. How dare anyone write a few negative words about Bernie. Here’s a news flash for you – Vermont’s politics are as dirty as they come.

    • Kathy Nelson

      If you want to go in that direction, Kendal, shouldn’t House Speaker Shap Smith come into serious investigation? After all he is a partner in the law firm that represents the bully industrial wind and industrial solar developer David Blittersdorf. He is also the one who put Rep. Tony Klein, in to head the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee to help pave the way for destructive projects like Blittersdorfs.

  • Bob Stannard

    “Toensing and Wilton, a 2012 Republican candidate for state treasurer, said Monday that the letter was not motivated by partisanship or a desire to hurt Sanders’ presidential campaign.”

    Other than Mr. Toensing and Ms. WIlton is there anyone else in the world who believes these words? Of course this is a partisan move and of course they have a desire to hurt Bernie’s presidential campaign. To say otherwise does little for their credibility.

    Apparently Bernie must be doing much better in Republican polling than we being led to believe.

    • Jamie Carter

      I’m not at all surprised you would see it this way. Is it politically motivated… sure, but it’s not a significant move against Sanders. It’s likely more of a middle finger.

      Think about it… really take off the blue colored glasses and think about it for a minute. This lawsuit is a blip on the screen nationwide. In Vermont it won’t matter anyways, Bernie should carry VT with little problem. SO there is little reason poltiically, to bother with this suit. As far as the primaries it will make nearly zero impact, and do you really think the GOP would prefer to face Bernie or Hillary. Frankly, I think they’d prefer a Bernie match up since more moderate independents will then vote republican, so there is so little to gain from this that calling partisian is almost laughable.

      In terms of the general election, there is maybe a problem. If Jane is found guilty of fraud and other things that will hurt Bernie in the General election. But, it should. If Jane’s guilty and Bernie knew anything then its not politics at that point but rather valid critique. If she isn’t found guilty of anything again no big deal.

      Admittedly the association of Toesning and Wilton make it a partisian thing, but if you actually stop and think about it maybe they are also good catholics that would like to see the money the church is owed returned AS WELL. And if they can get a jab in at Bernie at the same time well bonus.

      • Bob Stannard

        IMHO It’s a straight up partisan move…..period

        • David Dempsey

          Bob,

          I read the article about Jane Sanders overstating donations in order to get the loan the college needed to expand. I agree it is a partisan move, but an investigation, IMHO, is warranted. Executive indemnification might not cover her actions in this case.

      • Andi Rosin

        While I disagree with you on most things, including this, I think you tried to really look at this objectively, and I respect that.

        I disagree that Jane might be found guilty of fraud because I remember this issue coming up a few years ago, and it never went anywhere.

        But, like your well thought out, and reasoned post. Instead of just slamming Bernie and his supporters (like me!) you were very respectful and some of your points I can agree with.

    • J Scott Cameron

      It is a shame to see so many otherwise principled Sanders supporters commenting only about the political nature of the complainants and ignoring the substance of the issue. Regardless of the source these are serious allegations and the reporting to date indicates that the loan and real estate acquisition may not have been handled properly by Burlington College’s president. Lost in the shuffle is the damage to Burlington College and its students. Bernie and Jane Sanders should themselves be calling for an impartial investigation to clear the air. Until that happens this issue will hang over Bernie’s campaign like a dark cloud.

    • Andi Rosin

      I agree! When attacks start happening as Bernie’s poll numbers rise, AND the fact that the Church itself had no issue with it, it is obviously motivated by dirty politics.

      Most Vermonters see through this and most are not fond of dirty politics.

  • Don Peterson

    The timing here is such that the headlines impact the primaries these next few months, but the proof of innocence comes long after the general election. As such, the people with the most to gain from this are not republican but certain democratic challengers in New Hampshire and Iowa primaries, challengers that need all the help they can get right now.

  • Steven Farnham

    A bunch of Wall Street schmucks ruin the economy in 2008. The ripple effect spreads economic carnage throughout the world. Said schmucks get off scot free. Despite losing significant value of their retirement packages in the process, a nation of workers bail out the wealthy.

    Vermont Republicans, nevertheless are happy to support one of Wall Street’s finest a candidate for Governor.

    A woman most of us has never heard of makes what turns out to be an ill-advised gamble at a two-bit school in Vermont, and the Vt GOP is all over it.

    Wonder why that is.

    • fred moss

      You fail to mention the dems part of the crisis in 2008. The housing bubble, the entire loaning of money to borrowers who do not qualify, feds backing the loans. ALL policy driven by the dems.

      It is amazing how liberals ignore fact. I suppose this is another right wing conspiracy?? lol

      • Paul Donovan

        There’s a report on causes of the financial crisis here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-FCIC/pdf/GPO-FCIC.pdf. Read it for a clue.

        • Clyde Cook

          It probably does not hurt to remember ( or, maybe it does if you live and die by the D or R after your political affiliation), that it became a lot easier for Wall Street and the megabanks to get greedy about things when financial deregulation was signed into law by,,, President Bill Clinton, democrat. The Bush administration (R) certainly had no interest in tempering things. And by the way, those same banks are now even BIGGER than before the financial crisis of ’08 /09. Hmm, they got bigger during the democratic presidency after Bush. Everybody has dirty hands in all this and it will be interesting to see how the blame gets placed when it all implodes AGAIN, which it most certainly will.

  • Cheryl Ganley

    I think this is a much needed investigation; however, it should have been done a few years ago when Mrs. Sander’s left the position. Due to the timing I truly believe that this is 100% political. Had they have been truly worried about the situation something would have been brought up shortly after she departed. Please note: I am aware that this link is from a conservative site, but I think it has some interesting information. Even a reappearance of everyone’s favorite guy (in Burlington at least)…. Jonathan Leopold http://freebeacon.com/politics/sanders-and-wife-steered-campaign-nonprofit-money-to-family-and-friends/

  • victor ialeggo

    ‘Toensing’s firm, diGenova & Toensing LLP, sent the complaint letter on behalf of Wendy Wilton, a parishioner with the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Rutland, and other “aggrieved Vermont parishioners.”’

    “Wilton said she would not speculate as to why church officials [Coyne & McDermott] haven’t raised the loss as an issue.”

    Sounds like a smashup of the Oregon Bundy/Hammond debacle (“We don’t know who they are and we didn’t ask them to come here.”) along with Putin’s religious finesse — shedding crocodile tears and claiming the mantle of Protector of the Faith as he used the Pussy Riot flap to suck up support from the Russian Orthodox hierarchy when his popularity was in the sewer, a couple years ago.

    What a stink of sanctimony.

  • Kelly Cummings

    Seems to me Wendy has a way about her. When it’s election time you can be sure she’ll make up some kind of conspiracy theory/scandal about anyone she doesn’t want to win. And this time using the church! Gasp and Careful! We all know where that gets you. Hot cha cha.

  • robert fuller

    What Miller should be looking at is that the church. the bank, and the school no longer care. Particularly if the bank isn’t the plaintiff, there isn’t much of a case. What you have here is a politically motivated action by two disgruntled republicans.

    If an investigation proceeds, it will take years given the turnover within all the organizations and the fact that the organizations themselves would rather move on and are likely not going to be all that cooperative. Nevermind case load. But of course, Wilton and Toensing don’t really care about the outcome past November.

  • Ron Pulcer

    Regarding: “Toensing’s firm, diGenova & Toensing LLP, sent the complaint letter on behalf of Wendy Wilton, a parishioner with the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Rutland, and other ‘aggrieved Vermont parishioners.'”

    While I can sympathize with Immaculate Heart parishioners, including Wendy Wilton, it is fair to say that these parishioners were also “aggrieved” once before back in 2002-2003. The Diocese of Vermont had assigned the Rev. James McShane to Immaculate Heart parish in Rutland. Father McShane turned out to be one of the pedophile priests that were transferred between churches and/or dioceses. Immaculate Heart Church was the last church he was transferred to.

    http://docs.newsbank.com/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info:sid/iw.newsbank.com:AWNB:RHDB&rft_val_format=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rft_dat=10D847A5A91F67A0&svc_dat=InfoWeb:aggregated5&req_dat=0E7D6594B45ED061

    http://docs.newsbank.com/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info:sid/iw.newsbank.com:AWNB:RHDB&rft_val_format=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rft_dat=10D847CB49D53A28&svc_dat=InfoWeb:aggregated5&req_dat=0E7D6594B45ED061

    So while there may be valid questions to raise regarding Jane Sanders and Burlington College, suffice it to say, none of that would have happened if the Catholic Church had not been covering up the issue of pedophile priests for so many years. Did Wendy Wilton express her concerns to the Diocese, given the Father McShane episode? I am not defending Jane Sanders, as I don’t know much about the details, other than what I have read in VTDigger. But the Vermont Diocese would not have been forced to sell land and buildings if they had handled the issue of pedophile priests more honestly and openly years ago.

    I grew up Catholic and attended a Catholic School in another state. Luckily my church and school had never had to deal with this issue. Sadly, parishioners in other parishes who are “aggrieved” often don’t have much say, given the hierarchical structure of the church. Also parishioners don’t have much choice or influence in deciding who there priest will be (the Diocese decides that for them).

    Having been in the UCC church in the Midwest and now Congregational UCC church in Vermont, I do appreciate the more “democratic” tradition of the UCC / Congregational denomination. If church members are “aggrieved” they have some recourse in that the local church hires the ministers, they are not “assigned” by some hierarchical body. The UCC church members could vote to terminate a minister’s job for same behavior as Fr. McShane.

    BTW, the current Pope Francis has spoken very strongly about the issue of pedophile priests and diocese cover-ups. Interestingly, Senator Bernie Sanders is an admirer of Pope Francis.

  • The majority of comments on this story focusing on political motivations is not surprising.

    What is surprising is the little interest shown by the commenters in what is a serious problem and Jane Sander’s role in the matter. Providing false or misleading information to a lender to induce a loan is a serious matter that can result in criminal action against the provider of the bad information.

    In this case we do know that the information related to expected donations to the college provided to the bank and church by Mrs. Sanders was woefully wrong or overly optimistic depending on one’s point of view. The expected donations were a key factor in the loans being made and a key factor in the loans defaulting as the donations failed to materialize.

    At this time no one really knows what happened in this matter beyond Mrs. Sanders and perhaps a few aides that may have helped her in pulling all the information together on the donations and other sources available to repay the loans.

    Because of the impact this transaction has had on the college, the bank, the church and others, its reasonable to want to know how the problem developed. What kind of due diligence was done by Mrs. Sanders to ascertain the collectibility of the donations and how is this due diligence documented.

    Even more fundamental is what are Mrs. Sanders’ qualifications to carry out or supervise the task of soliciting and evaluating the collectibility of donations. What review and oversight did the college board of trustees provide on the donations before allowing the transaction to go forward? Finally, what due diligence did the bank and church do before agreeing to the loans being made.

    As a former banker familiar with such matters plus the requirements of state and federal banking regulators relating to underwriting and documentation of such transactions, I know that documented information should be available for review. If the information is not available, then that is a whole new problem that makes matters worse.

    Combine all of the above business/banking factors with Mrs. Sanders’ political influence, real or perceived, this is a matter worth looking into.

  • Christopher Daniels

    “Ultimately, the school only collected $676,000 of the $2.14 million Sanders listed in confirmed pledges, sending the school into dire financial straits and resulting in the sale of much of the lakefront property last year. Sanders resigned in 2011 under pressure from the board of trustees, who still gave her a $200,000 early exit package.”

    VT Digger has had a problem with this issue since it first broke the story last year. Namely, it has not squared Ms. Sanders’ failure to secure pledged donations with the acceptable success/failure rate at other colleges. Without such, Mr. Morgan has not established that Ms. Sanders’ success/failure rate was exceptional, nor has he established that it was due to her own personal actions, or whether the pledged donors broke their promises due to circumstances beyond Ms. Sander’s control. Furthermore, Mr. Morgan has not shown that Ms. Sanders, in presenting the pledged donors to the bank as loan collateral, did anything fraudulent. It’s innuendo at its finest, and Mr. Morgan’s reporting is being used as a political tool.

    I truly expect VT Digger to hold itself to a higher standard than is evident here in the reporting. The filing of a complaint by a Republican official is not in any way a story. If the federal officials act on the complaint and open an investigation, then you have a story. But has it stands right now, the complaint is vacuous partisan dribble. Need additional evidence that this is a hit piece? Mr. Morgan allows Wendy Wilton to insinuate there’s something that church officials are hiding by saying “she would not speculate as to why church officials haven’t raised the loss as an issue”. Well done, Mr. Morgan, and well done, VT Digger.

  • J Scott Cameron

    If any other non-profit (not headed by a politico or the wife of one) made the statements reported here and relied on by the banks and the Diocese in issuing credit and going ahead with the sale they would have been investigated long ago, most likely by the Vermont Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud unit under its authority to investigate and bring suit against non-profit entities. At the very least the College would be on the hook. Yes, this complaint by Toensing is political – that’s who he is and what he does. But the real question in my mind is whether the lack of action to date is also political due to the personalities involved. I’m trying to stay fair and balanced here and it is a shame to see many otherwise principled Sanders supporters poo-pooing this issue due to their political connections and interests. Bernie and Jane Sanders should themselves be calling for an impartial investigation to clear the air. Until that happens this issue will hang over Bernie’s campaign like a dark cloud.

    • Bob Stannard

      I don’t think anyone is “poo-pooing” the issue. If Ms. Sanders committed a crime than she should be held accountable. That said, it would seem to me as though if there’s an aggrieved party; i.e. the church, then they should be the one bringing suit.

      Having a suit put forth by two Vermont notable partisans does little more than raise doubt about the credibility of the claim. If a crime was committed then there should be plenty of other, more credible victims out there who could have filed suit.

  • Robert Joseph

    While the timing is most certainly political, I have to agree with Peter and J Scott. Anyone that knew anything of Burlington College prior to the purchase knew there was something screwy going on. The prime diocese property sold for less than market value to a college with well under 200 students enrolled (at the time) raising more than a few eyebrows…including those of students and staff.

    Then the news reported this was the dream of Jane O’Meara Sanders and those concerns quietly went away.

    Once the troubles began with budget issues, staff pay, loan repayment and Sanders severance, we all knew it was only a matter of time before this got ugly.

    As a tax payer and property owner within blocks of the college, I really hope someone does get to the bottom of it. If it takes political motivations get to the truth, so be it.

    • John Eisenhardt Jr

      Thankyou Brady .

  • Mike Ferzoco

    republicans demonstrate yet again that they have no interest in democracy, and have no substance. What to do? Create a phony scandal to take the public eye off of that fact. Pitiful.

  • Lou Colasanti

    Let’s be clear. I support Bernie. I have in every run of his for state-wide office. But as VTDigger knows, this story is, unfortunately, worth some scrutiny. What is questionable isn’t whether there are things that ought to be cleared up about the Burlington College land deal. The purchase and the subsequent dealings — from who signed off for the banks and other loan officials on numbers for enrollment increases and fund-raising that were, historically, out of all proportion to what could have been reasonably expected, to the College’s Board and the discharge of its responsibilities, to who and how the subsequent sale for private development took place, and for how much — all should have raised concerns very early on and throughout the process. What is questionable about this call for a federal investigation is THE TIMING. There can be little doubt that this is much less about whatever shenanigans may have unfolded around the Burlington College land deal and very clearly about a timed attempt to put a dent in Bernie’s campaign going into Iowa and NH.

  • Joyce Hottenstein

    According to the article the loan was not settled until last year….2015. So nothing could gave been done until all the dust settled. I think this issue is worth a look. And am glad to see the church not wasting more money on this issue if the law firm is donating their time.

  • Jason Brisson

    This is a red herring to promote the republican agenda for certain. As a catholic I firmly believe the sex abuse scandal hurt the diocese more financially than any land deal. The land deal would never have happened if the diocese wasn’t so strapped for cash from paying off the abused.