Bernie Sanders Under FBI Investigation for Bank Fraud-Reported as Truth! & Disputed!

Summary of eRumor:

Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane, are under FBI investigation. It’s been reported that Jane falsified bank documents in a land acquisition deal while she served as president of Burlington College, and that Bernie used his clout as a U.S. Senator to push the deal through.

The Truth:

Claims that Bernie and Jane Sanders are under FBI investigation are part of a developing story, and the Vermont senator has declined to confirm of deny that report.

An FBI investigation of the defunct Burlington College, where Jane Sanders once served as president, has reportedly led to both Jane and Bernie Sanders hiring lawyers. Bernie, however, insists that the investigation is politically motivated and stems from a complaint filed by a Trump campaign official.

Vermont-based watchdog new-site VTDigger first reported in September 2015 that Jane Sanders had misrepresented donor amounts on a loan application for College to acquire a $6.7 million parcel of land to expand its campus in Lake Champlain, Vermont. There was no mention of an FBI investigation that report:

Sanders told People’s United Bank that the college had $2.6 million in pledged donations to support the purchase of the former Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington property on North Avenue. The college, however, received only $676,000 in actual donations from 2010 through 2014, according to figures provided by Burlington College.

That’s far less than the $5 million Sanders listed as likely pledges in the loan agreement, and less than a third of the $2.14 million Sanders had promised People’s Bank the college would collect in cash during the four-year period.

This story resurfaced in April 2017. That’s when confirmed an FBI probe of Burlington College . It wasn’t clear at that time whether Bernie or Jane Sanders were under FBI investigation, but the report confirmed that the Department of Justice  had been investigating Burlington College for more than a year. The investigation was in  response to a “Request for Investigation for Apparent Bank Fraud” sent to the U.S. attorney for Vermont by Brady Toensing — a lawyer, former lobbyist and Vermont campaign chair for President Donald Trump:

In January 2016, after reporting by VTDigger showing former Burlington College President Jane Sanders overstated pledged donations in applying for a loan so the school could purchase its former North Avenue campus, Republican lawyer Brady Toensing made a formal request to the U.S. attorney for a fraud investigation.

Then, on June 22, Politico reported that both Bernie and Jane Sanders had hired lawyers in light of the ongoing investigation of Burlington College:

Sanders and his wife have been trying to ignore the federal investigation since reporters for VTDigger, an online publication, confirmed the FBI’s involvement in April. The original request for an investigation into the potential bank fraud did indeed come from Brady Toensing, an attorney who chaired Trump’s Vermont campaign, and whose January 2016 letter to the U.S. attorney for Vermont put federal agents on the trail. (Toensing, in an email to Politico Magazine, notes, “The investigation 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.”)

Now, Senator Sanders and his wife are taking the case more seriously. Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ longtime top political adviser who heads Sanders’ political organization, Our Revolution, confirms to Politico Magazine that Bernie and Jane Sanders have lawyered up. The couple has retained Rich Cassidy, a well-connected Burlington attorney and Sanders devotee, and Larry Robbins, the renowned Washington-based defense attorney who has represented I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and disgraced former Rep. Bill Jefferson, to represent Jane Sanders in the matter.

When it comes to the FBI investigation of Bernie Sanders, a second letter to federal prosecutors sent in January 2016 alleged “Improper pressure by a United States Senator” to get the bank loan approved, “a serious ethical violation.”

For his part, Sanders has called the investigation politically motivated and “pathetic.” In an interview on CNN, Sanders declined to answer whether his wife was under FBI investigation, but added:

My wife is about the most honest person I know. When she came to that college it was failing financially and academically. When she left it, it was in better shape than it had ever been. Five years later, just at the moment — coincidentally, no doubt — when I’m a candidate for president of the United States, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, a vice chairman of the Republican party in Vermont, launched this investigation. All that I will tell you now, Erin, is that it’s a sad state of affairs in America. Not only when you have politicians being destroyed when there are attacks against elected officials, but they go after your wife, people’s wives, that is pretty pathetic. And that’s where we are right now … It’s fairly pathetic that when people are involved in public life, not only do they get attacked, but their wives and families get attacked.”

Given that chain of events described above, we’re reporting claims that Bernie Sanders is under FBI investigation, along with his wife, as “mostly truth.” However, Bernie Sanders has dismissed the FBI investigation as politically motivated, and substance of the FBI’s probe hasn’t been made clear yet, so we’re also calling this one “disputed.”

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 06/28/2017
Bernie Sanders under FBI investigation
Reports that Bernie Sanders is under FBI investigation went viral in June 2017.