Smith: Sanders sells out

By Todd Smith | The Caledonian Record

This weekend Jasper Craven reported that a federal grand jury took testimony in October as part of a Justice Department investigation into a shady land deal she architected that ultimately killed Burlington College.

Todd Smith

Todd M. Smith is the publisher of the Caledonian Record.

As Digger previously reported, the FBI and the assistant U.S. attorney for Vermont (who leads the criminal division), are “probing aspects” of the the case as it relates to the former President of the now defunct school. Craven’s report confirms that the case isn’t going away any time soon.

As we’ve previously conceded, it remains unclear if Sanders killed Burlington College through innocent incompetence or something more nefarious.

It’s a question once articulately posed by Carol Moore, in a letter “What Really Happened at Burlington College,” to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The former Lyndon State College President had the misfortune of trying to rectify Sanders’ devastating malfeasance. Though she fell short, she got to appreciate just how insidious was Jane Sanders’ role.

President Moore wondered:

So, what really happened? BC’s fate was set when its former board members hired an inexperienced president and, six years later, approved the imprudent purchase of a $10 million piece of property for campus expansion. Enrollment that year was about 195 and the budget just over $4 million, less than half of this ill-advised investment. What were they thinking? Where was the Finance Committee when these decisions were being made?

More interestingly, what bank lends a small, private, unendowed college of that size and financial status an amount that so obviously outweighs its ability to repay? People’s United Bank of Vermont. And the collateral? One planned gift of a revocable trust, payable upon the death of the donor, and the “promise” of another million-dollar gift. But, alas, no written record of such a “promise” could be found, anywhere in Burlington College’s records.

Who is to blame for this appallingly inappropriate business deal? Perhaps a board that steered clear of the tough questions which needed to be asked. Or a bank in the state of an influential senator — a senator, as it turned out, with bigger ambitions?

Those are the questions likely still bothering the feds. They were also enough, apparently, to make the Mrs. nervous enough to hire boutique law firms in both Washington, D.C. and Vermont.

She can certainly afford it.

Recall that she blew away with a quarter-million dollar golden parachute for running Burlington College into the ground. Then she and her husband purchased a third home for $600K on Lake Champlain. And Bernie must have made bank on his book tour… why else would he have blown off the St. Johnsbury Academy graduation last Spring, for the self-promotional European jaunt, after promising to attend?

Not to mention his new “Revolution” which is enriching even more members of the Sanders clan.

We wrote about the “Revolution” last year before it became televised. Specifically massive numbers of conscientious staff defections.

As Seven Days reported last year “at least eight employees quit ‘Our Revolution’… after Sanders’ former campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, was brought in to serve as the group’s president. They complained that Weaver planned to raise money from wealthy donors and spend it on television advertisements, rather than organize a grassroots political movement.”

Affirmed Claire Sandberg, the former organizing director of “Our Revolution,” – “Jeff would like to take big money from rich people including billionaires and spend it on ads… That’s the opposite of what this campaign and this movement are supposed to be about and after being very firm and raising alarm the staff felt that we had no choice but to quit.”

Raise money from wealthy donors and spend it on television advertisements? Where have we heard that before?

Oh yeah.

In 2016 Craven wrote a terrific report on Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaign and the $80+ million the “socialist” spent on ad buys during his failed bid for the Democratic nomination.

Little is known about the mysterious, brand-new media-buying company that spent the lion’s share of that money. What we do now know, thanks to Craven’s reporting, is that “Old Towne Media, LLC” likely clawed over $10 million in commissions for placing Sanders’ campaign ads. We also know the ad agency came out of nowhere in 2014, moments before Sanders announced his candidacy. We know that Sanders seems to be Old Towne’s only client. And we know something else, per Craven:

Old Towne Media has another connection to Sanders: The two principal buyers for the company worked in the past with his wife, Jane. Jane Sanders, Shelli Hutton-Hartig and Barbara Abar Bougie were media buyers during Bernie Sanders’ 2006 Senate race.

That’s very interesting. Because in 2006, Senate Candidate Rich Tarrant “suggested Sanders’ wife improperly profited from campaign ad buys.” That was also just a few years before the Mrs. took the obscene golden parachute from Burlington College for running the place straight into the ground.

At the time of his report, Mrs. Sanders hung up the phone on Jasper when he asked her about “Old Towne.” She also refused to respond to endless VTDigger inquiries on the Burlington College debacle.

Maybe all these shenanigans help to explain why Sanders refused to honor a pledge he made on the campaign trail to release details of his personal finances?

After all, Sanders entire “career” and presidential campaign were built on bashing “greedy” rich people and railing against money in politics. Now he and the Mrs. spend their time on dark-money organizations soliciting obscene amounts of dough… from unidentified greedy rich people… to inject into politics… creating a fortune in media-buy commissions. That last part also, coincidentally, is smack dab in the middle of Jane’s wheelhouse.

If that’s not a sellout, we don’t what is.

Todd M. Smith is the publisher of the Caledonian Record, where this editorial first appeared. He lives in St. Johnsbury.

Images courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons and Todd Smith

8 thoughts on “Smith: Sanders sells out

  1. I am a perennial political candidate in Vermont, and have been on the official election ballot every two years, statewide, starting 2002. I have never been invited to a general election candidate debate held by AARP, VPR, UVM, etc. I have been excluded from the majority of debates and forums. In 2016, I was first on the Democratic Primary Election ballot for Governor and for US Senator, but US Senator Patrick Leahy refused to participate in any debate or forum with me; and I was excluded from the majority of primary election governor candidate debates and forums. I did proceed to the 2016 general election ballot for the US Marijuana Party. It’s not just money in politics that creates an unfair and un-American outcome in the November general election. On my website/blog I currently state that I am running for US Congress 2018 for the US Marijuana Party; but if US Senator Bernie Sanders happens to drop out of the race, then I might run for that office. I am keeping an eye out for legal proceedings that might ensnare US Senator Bernie Sanders along with his wife, Jane Sanders. I will probably collect petition signatures for both offices, US Congress – House of Representatives and US Senate, and then decide just before the filing date for 2018. Cris Ericson

  2. Absent some other guarantee on a loan that large, for a college that has no endowment had no real property to speak of, there is no way to understand how a) the Board would approve the loan, and b) the bank would approve the loan. Based on their revenues (and all of that data is in their 990s, the tax returns non-profits must submit, and available online here (, enrollment would have had to almost triple to cover their existing operating expenses and the new loan. Triple. It would be like a bank offering me a mortgage if I told them that my income was going to triple in the next six months – with no underlying documents to even suggest that that might be true.

    Oh, and Sanders’ daughter was the recipient of some of Burlington College’s largesse. BC had a woodworking class, featuring classes held at her daughter’s own woodworking shop. I’m sure it was the *best* workshop that Burlington College could find to host classes at, but if you’re a college president, you don’t do those things, just for appearances sake. You avoid the perception of a conflict of interest.

    Nope, not if you’re a Sanders. The fact that he flew around the country for a couple of years, decrying greed and capitalism, while doing everything possible to amass as much money for his “campaign” so he could win a presidency and tell other people how much money they’re allowed to make is nothing short of hilariously two-faced.

    I took a look at some of this a few years ago. It’s only gotten worse.

  3. Burlington College , how did Jane get the funding from the bank for the College with her
    credit back ground ??

    The only reason was the Influence by then Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders in
    today’s world we know that as collusion …………………

    Instead of a Golden Parachute and $250K , she should have received a dark cell and
    fined $250K

    Hey Burlington get ready , the off spring of her is heading Back to Burlington for a run
    Mayor ……………… the circle continues .

  4. Todd: Your expectations of probity assume them not to be Progressives, not to be Socialists. But that is what they are. I refer you to a quote from Vlad Lenin: “To tell the truth is a petty bourgeois habit, whereas for us to lie is justified by our objectives.” Some insight to Marxist ideology: According to Karl Marx, the only identities that mattered were class identities — the working class and the ruling class. So much for a classless society. Equality was for the serfs, not the ruling class. Marxism is feudal in nature. It was not a hard sell in Russia, which was emerging from being a feudal state until the Bolshevik revolution overthrew the emerging democracy of the Provisional government to which Nicholas II had surrendered control of the government in 1917. It is worth noting that the despots of the failing Socialist states are not living in penury – but the people are.

  5. Will they EVER land in jail? Ever? Or are they the ‘protected species’ like the Clintons? So corrupt.

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