Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Big Nothing Burger: The FBI should stop investigating Jane Sanders, Bernie's wife and former president of Burlington College

The FBI is investigating Jane Sanders, former president of Burlington College and wife of Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

The heart of the matter, as I understand it, is this: Jane allegedly submitted a loan application on behalf of Burlington College that falsely represented that the College had secured millions of dollars in pledged financial donations. The college obtained the loan but the pledged donations did not materialize. The college then closed in 2016 under a mountain of debt.

This is a big NOTHING BURGER, and the FBI should shut this investigation down.

Let's assume for a moment that the allegation is true and that Jane falsely represented that the college had financial pledges and that the the college obtained a large loan based on that misrepresentation. That would be reprehensible but no more reprehensible than the millions of people who filled out so-called liars loans during the real estate bubble that burst in 2008.

We all remember that episode, accurately dramatized in the movie The Big Short. People were applying for loans to buy homes without proper documentation of their income and assets. Those homes were wildly overvalued; but real estate brokers, real estate appraisers, and the banks all colluded to make sure the loans were approved Corporate financiers then packaged the loans into asset backed securities (ABS), which were peddled to unwary investors, including pension funds. The ratings agencies glibly certified that the ABS were investment grade when in fact they were junk.

And then the real estate market collapsed in a flood of foreclosures, and the American economy nearly collapsed.

Did anyone go to jail for that huge speculative bubble? No, no one went to jail.

Even if we put Jane's conduct in the worst possible light (which I am not inclined to do), she did nothing that wasn't done by millions of Americans, including a lot of fat cats in the global financial industry.  If we aren't going to put the ratings-agency executives, the real estate brokers, and the fat cats from Goldman Sachs in jail, then let's leave Jane Sanders alone.

Apart from whether Jane filed a fraudulent loan application, there is a suggestion that she was an incompetent president of Burlington College and that the college closed last year due at least in part to her poor leadership. But that allegation is bogus as well.

Dozens of small private colleges have closed in the past three or four years, and dozens more are on the brink of closure. Even if Jane Sanders had sterling administrative and financial skills, it is doubtful she could have saved that little college. After all, Burlington only had a couple of hundred students.

Her detractors have collected negative assessments from disgruntled former Burlington faculty members, but let's face it. Colleges all over the country are on the brink of extinction, and the professors generally do nothing but moan, gripe and criticize.

I repeat, this is a big nothing burger. The FBI and the conservative media should get off Jane's back.

In the interest of full disclosure, I admit I was once a big fan of Bernie Sanders. I voted for him, and I was disappointed when he wasn't named the Democratic nominee for President.

But I am over Bernie. In my opinion, he was cheated out of the Democratic nomination by Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a gaggle of disreputable journalists. Remember when columnist Froma Harrop called Bernie a racist in an op ed essay? Bernie Sanders, who was arrested in a civil rights demonstration when Hillary was checking footnotes at Yale Law School. What an outrageous accusation!

After the way the Democratic Party treated him, Bernie should have quit the Democrats and started a third political party. I am hugely disappointed to see him working collegially with the people who treated him so disgracefully during the 2016 primary season.

Nevertheless, Jane does not deserve to have aspersions cast against her based on a loan application that might have been puffed up a bit.  The FBI and Fox News should leave her the hell alone.


Leave Jane the hell alone!


References

Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz: Why the Sanders FBI bank loan investigation is dangerous territory. Fox News, June 28, 2017.


Froma Harrop. Bernie Sanders and Racism LiteSeattle Times, May 19, 2016.

Eli Watkins, Elizabeth Landers, and Will Cadigan. Bernie Sanders says reported investigation into his wife stems from 'pathetic attack. CNN, June 28, 2017.

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