June 22, 2017

The Sanders Money Mafia Machine, part 1

It's no wonder Bernie Sanders won't talk to Vermont media, especially independent media or NPR/PBS.

To extensively update a previous post, not only did VTDigger break the details that Jane Sanders, Bernie's wife, was part of an FBI investigation into financial matters at now-defunct Burlington College, it's now added newer, and juicier fuel to that fire.

Update, June 23: Bernie and Jane have reportedly "lawyered up."

We'll keep an eye on that. Meanwhile, note that that's not the only problem they face.

Jane Sanders, via Burlington College
VT Digger now has a whole nother story about Jane Sanders and her time at Burlington.

Here’s a sample of the mixtape:
While one deal struck by Jane O’Meara Sanders during her time as Burlington College’s president has triggered a federal investigation, another arrangement she engineered is breeding claims of nepotism and allegations of veiled threats against her husband’s presidential campaign. 
The bad blood centers on the relationship the college forged with the Vermont Woodworking School, co-founded and run by Sanders’ daughter, Carina Driscoll. 
Carol Moore, the final president at Burlington College, broadly blames the school’s 2016 closing on Sanders. In a scathing op-ed last year, Moore wrote: “BC’s fate was set when its former board members hired an inexperienced president.” ... 
Moore is equally critical of a deal Jane Sanders brokered between the college and Driscoll’s Vermont Woodworking School, a facility in Franklin County where Burlington College students took courses. 
In interviews with VTDigger, Moore said the college got the short end of the stick.
“This was a sweetheart deal for Carina Driscoll, Jane Sanders’ daughter,” said Moore. Driscoll is the stepdaughter of Bernie Sanders. ...
 
Moore alleges the woodworking school was “gouging the college.” She praised the academic merits of the program but said it was “barely” profitable. 
Students began attending the woodworking school in 2009 on what appears to have been a handshake deal. A formalized contract was made only under Jane Sanders’ successor as president, Christine Plunkett.
That's plenty enough for teaser, and all I can post under good fair use standards.

I lied. One more extract:
The Burlington College-Vermont Woodworking School connection is not the first time Sanders and her daughter have been accused of nepotism. 
Sanders & Driscoll LLC — a mother-daughter limited liability corporation — offered political consulting for Bernie Sanders’ 2002 and 2004 House races, and Jane Sanders drew more than $90,000 from the campaigns. The practice was allowed but frowned upon because of the opportunity to benefit from campaign donations.
It’s true that Bernie was one of 32 Members of Congress to do this in 2012.

Still, that’s little more than 5 percent of the membership, and is another black eye for Sanders’ fiscal honesty reputation.

Based on this story, I think I have a lot more confirmation about my theory of a full year ago and more than Jane was the one pushing Bernie's campaign. That said, Driscoll claims that Moore had it out for her and used the publicity about Bernie's prez run to try to browbeat her. She also claims she admitted the deal was unfair. But, apparently, never actually offered to redo it, which leads back to her mom.

I had speculated on these pages more than once last year if Jane, when president of the college, was trading on Bernie's name when trying to raise a big loan for glorious dreams of the college's future. And, given it closed suddenly last May, Bernie's lucky he wasn't nominated; media might have started nosing around this issue more at that time. Vermont local media probably were nosing around more.

I now have more confirmation for that idea, that Jane was trading on Bernie's name when she launched her big Burlington expansion scheme for "huge tracts of land." Maybe not a full shakedown, as she may already have been thinking about Bernie for Prez at that time, but hints, nods and expectations? Oh, hellz yes.

No real surprise to me. Sorry, Berners, Berners thinking about becoming Greens, etc. (And there aren't a lot of the latter; I see Berniecrat Twitterers touting Tulsi Gabbard for 2020; you're really, really wedded to the duopoly.)

It is also interesting that the investigation in the first link, per Burlington's board president, appears to have started before the college's official announcement of closure. Bradley Toensing's records request must have been treated fairly seriously from near the start — which could bring in a Barack Obama angle and/or a Hillary Clinton one, as well as the GOP one driven by Toensing — getcha popcorn, round two!

Also per these pages in the past, I've suspected Jane was a fair part of the impetus behind Bernie's run, and in addition to his own political animalism, may have been part of the impetus behind his political shifts from the 1980s to today.

Politics is blood sport, per James Stewart. Bernie's deal-cutting with the Vermont Democratic Party in the past shows he knows this well.

That said, do I think she did anything illegal? Very likely not. I'm not totally sure one way or the other now, to update from the original.

Something unethical, whether by official college ethics standards or everyday ones? Pretty likely.

Something fiscally dumb, and that she knew it at the time? More than just "dumb."

Jane's reward? Running the Sanders Institute, with its hacktacular fellows such as Robert Reich, Ben Jealous and Cornel West. (Greens, stop fetishizing the man.) And, there's also Islamophobic fascist fellow traveler Gabbard.

Any of them getting paid with the dark or soft money they're already starting to rake in? As a 501(c)3, not a (c)4, they're likely going to peddle in soft, not dark money, per Open Secrets' explainer. But, ALL of the 501(c) classes do not have to disclose any donors. So, in that sense of the word, it's darkness all the way down.

Now, Jane and Bernie may make a voluntary decision otherwise.

Don't hold your breath.

Do hold your breath, or rather, stand by, though, for something else.

Per the header, I'm sure there will be at least a Part 2 on this.

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