Two days after Burlington College announced its closure, a member of the board of trustees told local media: “I have heard that federal people have been asking questions” about $10 million in loans secured by Jane O’Meara Sanders, former president of the college and the wife of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Tom Torti, secretary of Burlington College’s board of Trustees, tells Heat Street that while he has not personally been contacted or interviewed by federal authorities, he has heard talk of an ongoing probe. He declined to name his sources, adding that rumors abound in a small community and that federal investigations are less transparent than they should be.
In 2010, Ms. Sanders sought $10 million in tax-exempt loans on behalf of Burlington College so it could buy 32 acres of land from the Roman Catholic Diocese, which was selling the property to help offset the costs of a sex-abuse settlement.
In the loan documents, Sanders repeatedly claimed Burlington College had received more than $2 million in firm fundraising pledges commitments. Those commitments were crucial to securing the loan. But after Burlington received the loans and bought the land, much of that money never materialized, and the college quickly fell behind on its financial obligations.