Senator Sanders’ Refusal to Answer Questions Re Burlington College.

Senator Sanders’ Refusal to Answer Questions Re Burlington College.

The following press release was sent by Brady Toensing on May 8, 2017.

Senator Sanders’ Refusal to Answer Questions Re Burlington College.

Although Vermont Senator Bernard Sanders refuses to give interviews to most of his home state’s media outlets, https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/the-media-bern-sanders-keeps-vermont-press-at-arms-length/Content?oid=4715938, he recently deigned to give a ten-minute interview to WCAX, a local Vermont television station: 

http://www.wcax.com/story/35356466/sanders-weighs-in-on-burlington-college-investigation

During that interview, in reference to an active FBI investigation into a fraudulent loan given to Burlington College where his wife was president, Senator Sanders was asked whether he “used [his] influence to secure [the] loan from” the federally insured bank.

Senator Sanders refused to respond and blamed politics for the FBI investigation. This investigation, however, was started in early 2016 after media reports raised questions about misrepresentations Ms. Sanders made concerning the school’s income in order to secure the loan. These media reports were based on public records and interviews with purported "confirmed" donors. 

The FBI has not disclosed what prompted its investigation, but it was started more than a year ago under President Obama, his Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and his United States Attorney, all of whom are Democrats.

During the interview, Senator Sanders claimed without explanation that it would somehow be “improper” for him to answer any questions about this fraudulent loan and his office’s involvement in securing it. However, it is perfectly appropriate for a public official to answer questions about the conduct of his office.

What is improper is a sitting United States Senator refusing to answer questions about his office’s involvement in a fraudulent loan that directly led to the demise of a college. This fraud also harmed students and resulted in huge financial losses to the bank, almost $150,000 in losses to the taxpayers of Vermont, and almost $2 million in losses to the Catholic Diocese.

There is evidence that Senator Sanders’s office improperly pressured the bank to approve the loan application submitted by the Senator’s wife. See attached May 25, 2016 letter to investigators. Improper pressure by a United States Senator is a serious ethical violation.  Under Senate Ethics Rules, a Senator or his office may not get involved in any way with a loan transaction that benefits a family member.  Senate Ethics R. 35(b)(1) and (b)(2)(A).  Under these rules it is improper for a spouse to receive favorable treatment for a loan “… because of the official position of the Member …”  Senate Ethics R. 35(b)(2)(A).